PAWCATUCK — Whenever the Woodland boys basketball team attempted to put a run together to get back into the Class M second round game against Stonington, a Donahue came up with a big basket. Unfortunately for coach Tom Hunt and the Hawks, two of the five basketball-playing Donahue brothers are on the Bears’ roster, and neither one would miss.
Junior Sam Donahue led the offensive attack with 22 points and freshman brother Jackson added 16 as No. 6 Stonington (20-6) knocked off No. 22 Woodland (13-10), 63-51, in front of a packed house at Stonington High on Thursday night.
Woodland’s Rahmi Rountree opened the scoring to give the Hawks a 2-0 lead. After a bit of a back-and-forth, Stonington jumped ahead for good on a pair of Sam Donahue 3-pointers, with a conventional three-point play in between. The Bears ended the first quarter leading, 18-12.
Yahmad Rountree recorded Woodland’s first four points of the second quarter on a pair of off-balance jumpers, the second after Jackson Donahue hit one of his four long 3s on the night. The elder Rountree’s basket cut the Stonington lead to 21-16 and prompted Bears coach Mike Reyes to make a change defensively, going from the traditional man defense Stonington runs with their guard-heavy lineup to a matchup zone.
The adjustment paid off as the Bears went on a 10-0 run that put them ahead, 31-16, and gave them a double-digit lead for the remainder of the game. The run was capped off by another deep 3 from Jackson Donahue, this one from the top of the arc that resulted in a Woodland timeout and a chant of “He’s a freshman!” from over 100 Stonington students standing on the bleachers across from the Hawks’ bench.
Yahmad Rountree scored all eight of the Woodland points in the second quarter as the Hawks headed to the locker room trailing, 33-20. The Donahue brothers combined for 23 of Stonington’s 33 points in the first half, including a combined six 3-pointers.
Stonington opened up its largest lead of the night after a 10-3 run to start the half, as Cody Candelet was knocked down on a layup, made the shot and the free throw, giving the Bears a 43-23 lead with 5:23 to play in the third quarter.
Yahmad Rountree scored another seven points in the third as Woodland headed to the final stanza trailing, 48-33.
Also helping to keep the Hawks in the game was offensive rebounding. Rountree, Ryan Angeloszek, Ian Bures, and the other Hawks combined for 20 offensive rebounds on the night. However, as Hunt pointed out, “20 offensive rebounds means there was a lot of missed shots.”
Woodland was able to cut into the deficit in the fourth quarter when Angeloszek was fouled on an elbow jumper by the Bears’ Will Defanti, who argued the call and received a technical foul. Rahmi Rountree sank the two technical free throws, cutting the deficit to 51-39 with 4:50 to play.
The Hawks later pulled to within 10 but would get no closer, and Stonington advanced to the Class M quarterfinals to face No. 3 Notre Dame-Fairfield, which is scheduled for Friday.
“We came out for 32 minutes, we played hard, and we had a lot of shots that didn’t go down that normally do for us,” Hunt said. “To get out of here with a 12-point loss, shooting the way we shot, means we got after it in other aspects of the game.”
Yahmad Rountree led all scorers with 23 points, 15 of them in the second half.
“Yahmad’s been a fabulous leader all year,” Hunt said. “He’s tried to carry the team at times, and this was just another case where he was going to refuse to lose, and do whatever it took to pick his teammates up.”