Woodland girls pick up two wins over top of NVL pack

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BY KEN MORSE
CITIZEN’S NEWS
The Woodland girls have found the perfect solution to break out of a skid by knocking off two of the top teams in the league.
The Hawks were struggling, having lost three of the last four, including a rivalry matchup with Naugatuck, 48-38, on Jan. 6.
The upcoming schedule did not look very favorable with games against Torrington and Seymour. Coach Jenn Deeley had the perfect solution, a pair of unlikely victories. Woodland defeated Torrington, 34-27, then took down Seymour, 44-28. Just like that the Hawks improved to 6-4 and rolled into the second half of the regular season.
After a tough set back to Naugatuck that saw Casey Mulligan (10 points) as the only double-digit scorer, the Hawks ramped up its defensive effort and just shut down their next two opponents.
On Jan. 10, Torrington busted out with a 12-7 first quarter advantage before Woodland slammed the door shut. The Raiders managed just five points through the second and third quarters and by the time the last stanza rolled around the Hawks were on top, 25-17.
Woodland went on to win with Peyton Filippone contributing a career high 10 points. Mulligan led the way with 15 points, but it was a combined defensive effort that put a halt to the two-game skid.
“The heart of this team is we work hard every day and we take no days off,” said Filippone, the team’s only senior. “I think we are bonding more right now as a team, especially on offense. Everyone is looking to get involved. I do feel some pressure as the only senior but this is a real tight-knit group of players and we really rely on one another.”
The Hawks had a rematch with Seymour and used the same type of defensive pressure to gain control of the game early on. Woodland grabbed the lead and stayed ahead for the win on Jan. 11.
As much of a scorer as Mulligan is, her biggest attribute is the way she purposely gets the entire team involved. The last thing on the mind of the team’s leading scorer is putting the ball in the hoop as she passed, rebounded and stole away possessions in her typical hustling style of play.
Woodland grabbed an 11-2 lead in the first quarter and Mulligan didn’t even attempt a shot. She was too busy pulling down two rebounds, dishing off two assists and coming away with three steals in the game’s first eight minutes.
“We are a much better team when everyone is involved,” said Mulligan. “When we are all playing with confidence we really play well together. We all trust one another and the more we play as a team the better we are going to get.”
Seymour started to make some noise but Ireland Starziski (13 points) was knocking down her shots. Filippone (8 points, 7 rebounds) was taking care of business under the basket as the Hawks held a 22-14 lead at the break.
The Wildcats made their run in the third quarter getting to within a basket at 24-22. Players make plays when the game is on the line. Mulligan (9 points, 8 rebounds, 6 steals) came away with a steal taking it the length of the floor and somehow did a corkscrew spin move around a defender for a layup off the glass. Lindsay Koliani took one down the middle splitting a pair of defenders for another layup and Starziski buried a three in the corner.
If Seymour had any thoughts of coming back from that surge, it quickly vanished when Jenna Chicano (8 points) calmly knocked down two free throws to push the lead back to double-digits.
Woodland was scheduled to play Crosby on Tuesday.