BY KEN MORSE
The Woodland girls wrapped up the first half of the basketball season with a two-game winning streak and a 6-4 record.
A tough stretch that saw them win just one of four games exposed some issues that needed to be addressed mainly on the defensive side of the ball.
Coach Jenn Deeley made that the team priority to close out the first half and the Hawks quickly deposited two games into the win column to gain some momentum.
“I don’t think it’s a secret to anyone that we are going to go as far as our defense is going to take us,” said Deeley.
It began and ended with a purposeful effort on defense and senior Peyton Filippone was at the forefront, making things difficult for opponents trying to take it down the middle.
The defense began to control the action out on the court. Junior Casey Mulligan leads the team scoring (15 ppg). She began her quest to get the entire lineup involved in the offensive end. Mulligan went from leading scorer to realizing that the shoot first and pass later approach was not propelling the team forward.
After being the leading scorer the first five games of the season, Mulligan began to pass the ball around the perimeter looking for the open shooter and three different players stepped up to lead the team in points over a three-game span.
“I think we are just starting to see our potential when we play together as a team,” added Deeley. “We had three different leading scorers over the past three games and that says a lot about how we are progressing as a team. I think we are just going to ride the hot hand right now, but it all needs to start with our defensive effort.”
Ireland Starziski (6 ppg), led the team with 13 points in a win over Seymour. Filippone (5.6 ppg) knocked down 32 points over a four-game span to help Woodland put together a four-game win streak to finish out the first half of the season.
Lindsay Koliani (5.5 ppg) led the Hawks, scoring 16 points in a 51-46 win over Crosby on Jan. 17 to start the second half of the season. Michaela Gasparri (3.0 ppg) came up big, adding 14 points.
Jenna Chicano has proven to be an effective weapon, knocking down 40 points in 10 games played, while posting up the kind of defense that has helped the Hawks build some momentum going into the last half of the season.
Chicano scored a career-high 16 points and hauled away 11 rebounds to lead Woodland to a 57-23 win over Kaynor Tech on Jan. 18. The Hawks improved to 8-4 on the season with that victory.
The toughest part to begin the last stretch is trying to figure out how to fill the void after losing Isabella Mastropietro for the remainder of the season with an ACL injury. The Hawks are also without the services of Erin Donelly, out with an ankle injury.
Lucia Rubano filled in one of the roles created by the injuries and dropped in six points against Kaynor. Carina Rodriguez added some valuable minutes off the bench, chipping in two points.
“Unfortunately we lost Mastropietro for the season,” said Deeley. “She was a key player for us inside securing rebounds. Erin Donnelly had an ankle injury and hopefully we can get her back next week. We are going to need some players to step up off the bench down the stretch.”
Woodland closes out the month on the road. They were schedule to play at Kennedy on Jan. 24, followed by another game at St. Paul on Friday.
BY KEN MORSE