Woodland on winning path

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BEACON FALLS — Although the Woodland boys basketball team didn’t crack into the win column before Christmas, head coach Tom Hunt already sees important characteristics on his team that he believes will lead to victories very soon.

“I’m as happy as I can be at 0-2 because I’ve liked a lot of the things I’ve seen with our team,” Hunt said. “I think that they’re playing hard, doing all the little things they need to do to be in games.”

Woodland opened the season with a pair of competitive games against the top two contenders in the Naugatuck Valley League’s Copper Division. The Hawks hung with St. Paul for most of the game Dec. 19 before suffering a 64-44 defeat. Woodland also put a scare into Seymour on Dec. 21, taking the Wildcats down to the final minute before they pulled away with a 62-53 win.

“I thought St. Paul and Seymour were two very, very good basketball teams,” Hunt said. “We were down 12 to St. Paul (after the first quarter) and we never really let it get away. Being up there, that was good for us. We come into the Seymour game, we’re trailing by 16 at the half and we cut it to three with a minute left. The kids don’t quit and they play hard. I can’t ask for any more.”

Not only does Hunt see consistent effort on the floor, but he also likes the balance with which the Hawks’ offense operates. Woodland placed four scorers in double figures against Seymour: Zach Bedryczuk led the charge with 17 points, Mickey Meier added 11 and Justin Marks and Kyle Macek tacked on 10 apiece.

“Everybody’s sharing the ball. We’re really playing together,” Hunt said. “We’ve preached that since Day 1 and the box scores say exactly what we’ve been trying to get out of them. There will be different opportunities for guys to score in this offense, and those guys can take advantage of them. There are opportunities for everyone. We don’t run plays to isolate one particular player, but within each set everyone has a chance to score.”

Hunt has been especially impressed with Meier, who transferred from Holy Cross just before the start of last season. Meier also scored 11 points in the opening game at St. Paul.

“Meier’s been really playing well,” Hunt said. “He played a little bit of point (guard) last year, but because of our (lack of) size, he’s had to move inside. That’s actually good for us because he can handle the ball and we’re putting him in positions where we can really take advantage of that.”

One thing that could help Woodland earn its first victory is cutting down on turnovers, the major problem that plagued the Hawks last week.

“I think that we could value the possession a little better and take care of the ball,” Hunt said. “We don’t need the great pass — we need the good pass. We just need to get a little bit better with the ball. If we get more opportunities to score instead of turning it over, the guys will really start catching on.”

Woodland will visit Ansonia on Wednesday followed by a nonconference matchup at Thomaston on Friday night. The Hawks will return home to kick off 2018 with a game against Watertown on Jan. 3.