Woodland tackles new challenge

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Woodland's David Uhl dives to save the ball as Torrington's Jan Carlos Cruz rushes in during the Hawks’ 57-48 win Tuesday night in Beacon Falls. RA ARCHIVE

BEACON FALLS — Tuesday night’s game against Torrington provided a different sort of challenge for Woodland. The Hawks either played from behind or were locked in a neck-and-neck battle in each of their first eight games this season.

But Woodland held a 16-point lead over Torrington after the third quarter in Beacon Falls. Naturally, the fourth quarter couldn’t be too easy.

Despite a brief Red Raiders comeback, the Hawks remained ahead the entire away and finally pulled away with a 57-48 victory.

Torrington started the fourth quarter with a 10-0 run — three buckets coming off turnovers — to cut Woodland’s lead to 46-40 with 4:05 to play. But Tanner Kingsley, who scored a game-high 28 points, was 7-of-8 from the free throw line over the final four chippy minutes to help the Hawks (5-4) break their two-game losing streak.

“We’ve been learning how to play at the finish line and do special things at the end, but this was the first time we’ve had to play from the front with a double-digit lead,” Woodland coach Tom Hunt said. “Some guys weren’t sure if we were supposed to be running clock or taking shots. We were trying to get great looks instead of the good looks we were getting through the first three quarters.”

The first four minutes of the fourth quarter were just as bad for Woodland as were the first four minutes of the game, in which Torrington went on an 8-0 run to take an 8-2 lead. That prompted a rare early timeout by Hunt.

“They needed to be challenged,” Hunt said. “We work real hard in practice, but I don’t think they were doing themselves justice in the first few minutes. We asked them to back up their talk in practice, and they came out and showed how hard they work.”

Woodland's Ryan Angeloszek drives to the basket Tuesday night during the Hawks’ 57-48 win over Torrington in Beacon Falls. RA ARCHIVE

The timeout worked. Woodland outscored Torrington, 10-5, through the rest of the first quarter to pull within 13-12, then had a 17-7 advantage in the second quarter to take a 29-20 halftime lead. The Hawks started the third period on a 10-1 run to take their largest lead at 39-21.

Overall, it was a 37-13 run in which Hunt saw strong teamwork, ball movement, and shot selection.

“We have some real nice chemistry going right now,” Hunt said. “Ryan Angeloszek is doing a great job of finding Tanner when he’s open, and Tanner’s doing a great job finding Ryan when he’s open. Ryan had a nice cut at one point and Tanner gave him a great pass that met him right at the spot.”

Angeloszek scored 11 points and was the only player besides Kingsley to score in double figures. But many players contributed in their own ways. Dave Uhl scored seven points and was persistent in the defensive backcourt. Billy Alfiere, Dan Giacomazzi, Dave Alves, and Kirk Chamenko combined for only 11 points, but each played well in the paint.

“Billy’s shot might have been a little off, but he really went to the boards hard,” Hunt said of Alfiere, who had 10 rebounds. “When you can contribute in other ways than shooting, that’s important. The team is coming together and the coaching staff is developing a great rotation that is suiting the team. We’re really able to keep the guys fresh.”

Woodland continues its Copper Division stretch with a key game against Naugatuck on Friday night in Beacon Falls. The Hawks then travel to Holy Cross on Wednesday. With five wins, Woodland is just three victories away from making another state tournament.

“The first goal we set at the beginning of the season was to get eight wins,” Hunt said. “We have to get the next three wins as quickly as possible and then we can go from there.”