BEACON FALLS — It had been five years and a day since the Woodland boys basketball team pulled off its most emotional win ever — a three-point upset of Wilby on Jan. 25, 2013, just days after the unexpected death of the beloved George Pinho.
That memorable, 79-76 win over the Wildcats was the last time that the Hawks claimed a win over one of the six Waterbury schools in the Naugatuck Valley League — until last Friday.
Last week, Woodland held off Kennedy for a 63-53 home victory that still made coach Tom Hunt smile days later.
“It was the culmination of everything we’ve been working toward,” Hunt said. “If we execute and have kinda the perfect game, we’re going to knock off someone we’re not expecting to knock off. That night we were running our offense well and our defense was intense.”
Justin Marks enjoyed his career-best game for Woodland, posting a double-double with 22 points and 12 rebounds. Zach Bedryczuk tacked on 17 points and Mickey Meier added 16 for the Hawks, who improved to 5-6 with the victory.
Woodland held a four-point lead entering the fourth quarter and pulled away after the Eagles (2-10) tried to mount a comeback.
“They came back on us and we called a timeout. We ran a set that we like to run, and we were able to get an and-one three-point play for Mickey Meier,” Hunt said. “Right there, I knew the kids knew they weren’t going to be denied that night.”
Although Woodland suffered a 104-45 setback Monday against one of the state’s top teams in Holy Cross, Hunt hopes to channel that success against Kennedy as the Hawks strive to make the state tournament. Woodland (5-7) needs three wins in its final eight games to qualify for the Division V tourney.
“The kids have belief in the system we run here,” Hunt said. “We were able to get easy, good looks the whole game (against Kennedy). It’s going to be easier for them to buy in.”
Woodland will visit Watertown on Friday before hosting rival Naugatuck on Tuesday.