COLCHESTER — For just the second time in program history, the Woodland boys basketball team won a first-round state tournament game.
The No. 22 Hawks hung around in a back-and-forth Class M battle with No. 11 Bacon Academy Monday night in Colchester and came away with a 46-43 win thanks to a late 3-pointer by Ryan Angeloszek.
Woodland (13-9) held a 42-41 lead with under 2 minutes to play until the Bobcats made a steal and converted a layup to take a one-point lead.
On the ensuing possession, the Hawks worked the ball around the wing and swung it to Angeloszek (13 points, 10 rebounds), who hit the shot from behind the arc to put the Hawks up, 45-43, with about a minute and a half remaining.
Woodland got a stop on the next trip down the floor but was unable to slam the door by hitting just 1-of-5 from the free throw line in the closing minute.
“We kept them in it by not being able to convert at the line down the stretch,” Woodland coach Tom Hunt said. “But we rebounded well off the misses. The kids showed a lot of composure.”
Composure was paramount in a game that Hunt described as close the whole way.
“The game was tight throughout,” Hunt said. “I don’t think we were up more than four or down more than two. It was one of those back-and-forth games.”
Woodland led, 22-19, at the half after trailing, 12-11, following the first quarter. The teams played a dead-even second half, scoring 24 points each.
No Hawk scored more than 13 points, but four scored at least seven and the rest were key on defense and in the paint.
Yahmad Rountree finished with 11 points and seven rebounds while Tanner Kingsley added nine points and Rahmi Rountree had seven.
“That’s the one thing we’ve worked on all year, getting everyone involved,” Yahmad said. “It makes us a lot more of a threat. We never gave up, no matter how rough things got for us. We did it as a team.”
Though Yahmad’s point totals have declined in recent weeks due to the increased pressure he sees, Hunt says he’s still just as important to the Hawks’ winning.
“The farther along we get, teams are going to be a little more focused on Yahmad,” Hunt said. “He’s just going to have to do what he does best.
When he wasn’t scoring, he was rebounding and playing defense. With them concentrating so much on Yahmad, it opened up Ryan on the outside. We were able to take advantage of that.”
Hunt also praised the performance of Kingsley, who continues to make steady contributions as a freshman.
“Tanner is fearless as a freshman,” Hunt said. “It showed that he’s not going to back down from anybody. He’s just going to play his game.”
Hunt said the crucial play of other players, including Sean Deegan, went well beyond the box score.
“Going into that game we weren’t able to scout them but we were aware of their best player, Ryan McLaughlin,” Hunt said. “As a coaching staff, we decided to go with our diamond-in-one defense and put our best defender, Sean Deegan, on him.”
Deegan held the Class M all-star to 15 points.
Woodland was set to travel to No. 6 Stonington (16-5) on Wednesday night, after press time. Should the Hawks pull another upset, they’ll face either No. 3 Notre Dame-Fairfield (18-3) or No. 14 Kaynor Tech (15-6) on Friday night.