Woodland closes first half of season strongly

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By Ken Morse

Citizens News

The Woodland girls basketball team (5-4) closed out the first half of the season with Wolcott on Jan. 12.

The second half promised quite a challenge at the start with games against Seymour and Holy Cross.

After a tough start at 0-3, the Hawks took flight and ripped off four wins in a row with three of those victories coming by just one basket. Woodland hit a bump in the road, dropping a tough 56-51 decision to Watertown on Jan. 5 when it surrendered 20 points in the final quarter.

It marked just the third time this season that the Hawks gave up 20 points in a quarter, and they needed to get back to basics on defense.

“We are starting to put together a solid core of scorers behind Casey (Mulligan), but defense is the key,” said Woodland coach Jenn Deeley. “You have to play defense to give your team a chance to be successful.”

Following the loss to Watertown, Deeley knew that stopping Aryn Bombery or at least slowing her down was the key when they faced Naugatuck on Jan. 9. The Hawks came out and did just that, taking a 12-8 first quarter lead and stretching it into a 28-20 halftime advantage. Woodland finished off Naugy by a 60-44 margin.

”Aryn is a tremendous talent,” said Deeley.<t$>

”Not only does she have tremendous post moves but she can drop her shot from the outside as well. I thought our kids played hard on her trying to wear her down and double team her when she had the ball. She still had a good game but I’m proud of how our kids played.

“We got good production off the bench, which was encouraging to see. Lindsay Koliani (12 points) had her fourth double-figure game and that is huge for us. I thought it was a great team effort with balance throughout the lineup. That’s what it’s going to take to be successful.”

Naugatuck started to make a push to get back in the game only to have Michaela Gasparri (8 points) turn up the defensive effort, creating turnovers. Jenna Chicano, Isabella Mastropietro and Nora Nemec all chipped in with six points each as the Hawks took a 44-29 lead into the final quarter.

“We have a strong freshmen class and they are contributing,” continued Deeley. “Nora Nemec, Giuliana Celotto and Carmen Whitten have all played well in supporting roles. Last week against Watertown I put sophomore Ava Napiello in her first varsity game and she held their leading scorer to four points in the first half.

“Now that we are getting production throughout the lineup offensively, it’s not all on Casey’s shoulders. That’s a good thing because when we face teams like Seymour and Holy Cross.

They won’t just try and double team her because we will have other options, making us tougher to defend.”

Mulligan led the Hawks, scoring 17 points in the win over the Greyhounds as Woodland used a 32-point second half to put the game away. The Hawks were scheduled to host Seymour on Tuesday. They are slated to play at Holy Cross on Friday.