By Ken Morse, Citizen’s News
Ava DeLucia, the only senior on the Woodland girls basketball team, breathed a sigh of relief when the decision was announced that there would be a winter high school sports season — albeit a truncated one — and turned her focus to leading the Hawks.
“I was so happy and relieved that the decision was made to have a season,” DeLucia said. “I’m not feeling any pressure about our team’s success. I’m more concerned with being the senior captain and trying to lead everyone through a very different time.”
DeLucia led the way for the Hawks in their season opener — a 55-51 overtime loss Feb. 10 at Ansonia — with 15 points and 13 rebounds.
The Hawks held a 35-27 advantage heading into the fourth quarter, but Ansonia stormed back and outscored Woodland 18-10 in the quarter. Woodland needed a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Sammy Sosnovich to send the game to overtime.
Casey Mulligan had 12 points for Woodland. Gabby Mastropietro and Sosnovich added nine points each.
“We lost Andra Bojka to an injury early in the game and that hurt,” Woodland head coach Jess Moffo said. “We didn’t hit our free throws, we were only 20 percent from the line. But we were able to play our first game in a season we weren’t even sure would happen, so that is a plus.”
“Ava showed the kind of leadership she has, leading the team in points and rebounds,” Moffo added. “She did her job. It was good to see the girls out there excited to play, and I’m happy that Ava gets a chance to play her senior season.”
With players having to wear masks and limited or no fans at games, this season will present different challenges.
“I know it’s going to be different playing with a mask on. It’s a struggle to breathe sometimes going up and down the court. There are many challenges with the restrictions and guidelines, but we are just happy to be back out there together as a team,” said DeLucia, who showed her poise in the fall with a game-winning goal with 30 seconds left on senior day for the undefeated Woodland girls soccer team.
“In spite of the challenges, it is so worth it to be out there for my senior season,” DeLucia added. “It’s definitely a little strange not having fans in the stands. The fans usually give you a little pick-me-up during the games. We certainly have a very loud bench to spur us on, but it will be an adjustment, like everything else, that we will need to get used to.”