Tracey named MOP of Putnam Rotary All-Star game
Aislin Tracey made the most of her final high school basketball game.
The Centaurs' senior guard was named the Most Outstanding Player for the Gold team in the Putnam Rotary Club Senior All-Star game on Tuesday at Putnam High School.
Tracey finished with 19 points but the Gold team came out on the short end of a 70-53 score to the Blue.
"It was a good way to end the season, playing with a bunch of people that I had play with all year round and just having a fun game," Tracey said.
Tracey was a juggernaut early.
"I think it was Aislin 12, Blue team 10 at one point," Killingly High and Gold team coach Gina Derosier said. "She played really well. She was on fire to start with. Too bad the rest of us were a little cold. If we had all put it together in the first half, it might have been a different outcome."
Tracey scored all 10 of the points for the Gold team in the first quarter, getting a fast-break layup and a trio of jumpers, two of them from beyond the 3-point arc.
Tracey and her teammates had another hurdle to overcome.
Only 10 girls showed up to participate, meaning all 10 had to play all 32 minutes.
"It wasn't bad," Tracey said. "A lot of us just ended the season so we were in pretty good shape still. It was nice to get back at it and have some fun."
Season comes to close for Woodstock Academy
The season came to an end Tuesday for the Woodstock Academy girls basketball team.
The Centaurs finished their season with a 10-12 record after a loss to East Hartford in a first-round Class LL state tournament game.
“I don’t think many people thought we would even make the playoffs so to break even for the regular season, I definitely would call it an overachievement,” Woodstock Academy coach Will Fleeton said. “It’s a little different view for me because I work with these kids every day so I felt like we could get even more. I see the desire and passion they have. Five-hundred is great, I think we could have done a little better.”
There is some good news for the Centaurs.
They lose only three seniors; leading scorer and rebounder Heather Converse (12.2 points per game, 11 rebounds a game), guard Aislin Tracey (5.2 points per game, 6 3-pointers, 37 steals, 29 assists) and Mackenzie Eaton who was injured for almost the entire season, playing in just one game.
It means Fleeton has a core to work with next season.
“I love the kids. They put in an honest day’s work every day. We see some gradual improvement as we go and that’s all I’m after. If they’re going to work hard and show improvement, then we’re headed in the right direction,” Fleeton said.
Without Converse, the offense will now be in the hands of Katie Papp who finished second in both scoring and rebounding (7.8 points, 6 rebounds per game) and Kayla Gaudreau (6.8 points per game).
“Scoring was an issue for us all season even when we were fully healthy. Missing a key big girl (Converse) in the middle will be a factor. She does a lot of things that don’t show up on a stat sheet. To fill those shoes, we will probably have to do it as a group, but I’m confident in the returning kids that they will put their best effort forward,” Fleeton said.
One thing he hopes is that his players will pick up the basketball in the offseason.
“That definitely has to happen to play at this high a level,” the Woodstock Academy coach said. “I don’t have many full-fledged basketball players, I have multi-sport athletes. I’m proud of them for that. I would rather see that than see them carry a basketball 24/7. But I think extra time with the ball in their hands can only help. It’s definitely a benefit. Is there time and space for that? I don’t know.”
The injuries mounted up for the Centaurs as the season neared its end.
“It seemed like every game we would lose (a player) as we approached the last one. I think I will always carry the question with me forever; If we were fully loaded, how would we have performed against East Hartford?” Fleeton said.
The 25th-seeded Centaurs were playing shorthanded against the No. 8 Hornets on Tuesday and it showed.
They fell to East Hartford, 61-31.
Converse was sidelined for the last three games of the season with a concussion.
Also missing was Papp and two younger players, Peyton Saracina and Sierra Bedard.
“We were fighting for our lives,” Fleeton said.
East Hartford also didn’t come into the game with a 16-4 record for nothing as the Hornets were “pretty solid” according to Fleeton.
East Hartford had some good size and without their two largest bodies in there, the Centaurs yielded a host of offensive rebounds.
The Hornets scored the first eight points of the game and led after the first quarter, 13-2.
East Hartford essentially wrapped up the game when it outscored the Centaurs again in the second quarter, 23-12, to take a 36-14 lead into the halftime locker room.
“I thought we defended them well, they just got extra chances. They won the rebounding battle, had many offensive rebounds, which hurt us. It’s tough to make a couple of good stops, give them the ball back and have to do it again. The lack of size hurt us. We fought in the paint as best we could, I can’t complain, we just couldn’t hold down their bigs,” Fleeton said.
Gaudreau had four 3-pointers and led the Centaurs with 12 points while Alexa Pechie added eight in the loss.
Centaurs fall in ECC quarterfinal
Normally, Woodstock Academy girls basketball coach Will Fleeton wouldn’t be very happy about taking a week and a half off prior to state tournament play.
This year is different.
“I think it’s needed,” Fleeton said.
The Centaurs played against and lost to Bacon Academy in an Eastern Connecticut Conference tournament quarterfinal game Thursday, 42-29.
They did so minus the likes of Heather Converse, who has led them in just about every category this season, and both Katie Papp and Peyton Saracina, each of went down during the Bacon Academy game with injuries. Rachel Lambert also had to sit a spell after injuring her finger and Sierra Bedard was unavailable after being injured in the junior varsity game at Norwich Free Academy Monday.
Fleeton said it was getting to the point where he almost had to ask if someone in the stands wanted to dress as most of his bench was unavailable.
In other words, the rest, prior to the Class LL state tournament, is welcome.
“This is my first year where I’ve thought a long break in between was actually good. We made a long ECC tournament run one year (when the Centaurs won the ECC Division II championship in 2017). There was another year, however, where we had a long break and it was torture just practicing getting ready for the state game. I think it’s perfect now. We can heal some bumps and bruises and get ourselves back together for the state game,” Fleeton said.
The Centaurs do not play until Tuesday, Feb. 26 when they travel to East Hartford to play the Hornets (16-4) in a first round Class LL state tournament game. The Connecitcut Interscholastic Athletic Conference pairings will not be official until after Tuesday.
“Nothing,” Fleeton said flatly when asked what he knew about East Hartford. “I haven’t begun to try and research anything yet. We had to deal with Bacon Academy (Thursday) so that was on the plate. Now, that it’s over, we can turn the page and start to look at East Hartford.”
If there is one notable item in the East Hartford record, it’s that the Hornets did lose to East Lyme, a team the Centaurs split with this season.
“I feel we can compete with anyone, but we have to be on top of our game. The hidden factor is whether we can compete for four quarters at a high level and we need to do that just to be able to play some of these teams and have a chance. Can we match that level?” Fleeton said.
It's the first year the Centaurs (10-11) will play in the Class LL tournament.
They reached the quarterfinals of the Class L tournament the past two seasons.
The Centaurs finished up the regular season at the .500 mark, 10-10, after a 60-35 loss on Monday to Norwich Free Academy.
“The competitor in me says, coming into the season, our goal was higher than 10 (wins). Looking at reality, 10-10 is pretty good considering the schedule we played,” Fleeton said.
The Centaurs were hampered by the absence of Converse against the Wildcats.
The senior averaged 12.2 points and 11 rebounds per game through the first 19 contests. She added 40 steals, 35 assists and 22 blocks.
But in the game against Stonington the Saturday before the NFA game, she collided with a member of the Bears and suffered a concussion which kept her out of both of this week’s contests.
“It’s extremely tough,” Fleeton said of playing minus Converse. “Missing her was an opportunity for other kids to show themselves, but there was also a lot of uncomfortable feelings among the group on the floor. Her just being on the floor calms the others. It was huge not to have her.”
The Centaurs struggled early against NFA.
The Wildcats (10-11) broke out to a 17-5 lead in the first quarter.
Woodstock Academy fought back a bit in the second and trailed only 27-20 at the half but were overwhelmed again in the third quarter when the Wildcats went on an 18-7 run.
Kayla Gaudreau paced the Centaurs with 15 points, all came in the form of five 3-pointers.
Papp added 11 points in the loss.
Things didn’t get much better against the Bobcats, significantly worse, in fact, when it came to the health report.
Converse was still on the bench and was joined by Bedard.
The Bobcats forged to a 20-9 lead in the first half and things seemingly also took a turn for the worse when the bodies started to mount on the sideline.
Papp was hit in the head early in the game and did not return. Lambert jammed a couple of fingers and Saracina injured her knee.
It left Fleeton with a lineup that featured 5-foot-4 Linda St. Laurent at center with Kaitlin Birlin up front. Aislin Tracey, Maria Monrabal and Gaudreau comprised the back court.
The Centaurs rallied.
Woodstock Academy closed to within 10 points in the fourth quarter and only lost the half by two points, 22-20.
“We were, somehow, making shots and getting boards. That unit brought us back into the game,” Fleeton said. “It was bad because we didn’t have anyone left to play but they didn’t do bad.”
Gaudreau and Tracey led the Centaurs with eight points apiece.
Centaurs lose two
It's not an easy way to end the regular season.
Then again, Woodstock Academy coach Will Fleeton said it has been a microcosm of the season.
The Woodstock Academy Centaurs girls basketball team had to play a Friday night game at Wethersfield and followed that up with a Saturday morning contest in Stonington.
“It’s similar to the whole season. We’ve had it tough all the way. We’ve had some back-to-backs. I think this just fits in with the rest of the season. It’s no different than the beginning. Good opponents every other day,” Fleeton said.
It can wear on a team.
That was evident on Saturday when the Centaurs fell to Stonington 50-34.
They had just come back off a 48-45 loss on the road to Wethersfield.
“It was very tough,” Woodstock Academy coach Will Fleeton said. “I’m sure it took away from the kids’ legs a little bit. It was a late night (Friday) and an early morning (Saturday).”
It showed early.
Stonington broke out to an 8-2 lead with the benefit of five Centaur turnovers.
Woodstock Academy found some energy and were able to get back into the game. The Centaurs got a couple of baskets from Aislin Tracey and trailed just 12-8 at the end of the first quarter.
Another problem had reared its head, however.
The Centaurs were whistled for six fouls in the first quarter and the seventh followed quickly in the second, putting the Bears on the line.
The Bears (16-3) made their first four free throws to go up by eight, but made only one of their next nine to help keep the Centaurs in the game.
The Bears were only up eight, 21-13, with 2:49 left in the half when they found the range from both the line and the floor.
Aliza Bell (12 points, 8 rebounds) hit a pair from the charity stripe. Heather Converse brought it back under double digits with a free throw, but the Bears scored the next six points and led, 29-14, at the break.
Woodstock Academy never recovered from the 17-6 second quarter deficit.
The Centaurs were able to cut the lead to 11 by the end of the third quarter and a Marina Monrabel 3-pointer kept it at that with 5:50 left, but the Centaurs were never able to get any closer.
Converse scored 10 points and pulled down 10 rebounds to lead the Centaurs.
Because of the point differential and the way the game was going, Fleeton did leave some of his bench on the floor for extended periods of time.
Aurissa Boardman (5 points), Linda St. Laurent and Peyton Saracina did put together effective contributions.
“I think, at one stretch, we were searching for something. I thought I could go a little deeper on to the bench, give the kids an opportunity, see how they do in a big game. To get a look at something we might do in the (tournaments), maybe we can extend the bench a little bit. I wanted to see how they would perform in a tough situation,” Fleeton said.
The Centaurs played well against Wethersfield.
Woodstock Academy led, 20-19, at the half, but fell behind in the third quarter when the Eagles outscored the Centaurs 17-12. The two teams played just about even in the third quarter.
Converse led Woodstock Academy with 17 while Kayla Gaudreau added 12.
WA outlasts East Hampton
It was a memorable Senior Night for the Centaurs girls basketball team.
After honoring three seniors, Heather Converse, Mackenzie Eaton and Aislin Tracey, the Centaurs went out and downed East Hampton, 30-26, in overtime Wednesday.
“We needed this one,” Woodstock Academy coach Will Fleeton said. “The last home game, Senior Night for Aislin and Heather, possibly their last time playing in here. I think it was important for them to walk away as a winner. I don’t think they will ever forget this.”
Katie Papp was the key in overtime.
The junior center broke a 21-21 tie just 18 seconds into the extra period with a basket.
East Hampton tied the game on a pair of Rachel Vickery free throws and went ahead on a basket by Mya Field with 2:29 to play in overtime.
Field finished with 13 points for the Bellringers and established a new address for herself; 1 Free Throw Lane, Woodstock Academy, CT.
Field was 10-for-21 from the free throw line. In contrast, the Centaurs took only 10 free throws as a team.
The Centaurs (10-7) missed an opportunity, but got the ball back when East Hampton committed an unforced turnover.
Senior guard Aislin Tracey drove the baseline, but spotted Papp on the other side and got the ball to her teammate who not only converted the basket, but the free throw that followed with 1:33 left to put the Centaurs ahead, 26-25.
“That was an amazing pass by Aislin. I was just so happy that it went in because it made the whole game, It also brought our spirits up,” Papp said.
“(Papp) was very strong on the base line. We were looking to get it from high-to-low, we wanted to get it from (Converse) to (Papp), but we had to make an adjustment and get it in from the wing to get it to that spot. She did a good job finishing it,” Fleeton said.
The Centaurs had not exactly been proficient inside against the Bellringers, missing numerous inside layups and put backs and even a couple fast break opportunities.
The Centaurs made only 11-of-41 shots on the day, shooting best (3-for-6) when it counted- in overtime.
Woodstock Academy had another hurdle to clear.
Converse (13 points) fouled out with 1:09 left in overtime. She was preceded to the bench by fellow starter Kayla Gaudreau who picked up her fifth foul late in regulation.
“It makes a big impact not having them on the floor,” Papp said. “Heather is a big part of our team, is very helpful on defense and not having her with us was hard.”
East Hampton made one of two free throws off the Converse foul to tie the game at 26.
The Centaurs went up to stay when Tracey drove in, missed a layup, but was helped by Papp who cleared the offensive glass and was fouled.
Papp made both of her free throws to put the Centaurs back up by two.
Peyton Saracina added an insurance bucket with 23 seconds left.
The game was hardly an offensive showcase.
That was result of fine defensive play on both sides.
A Gaudreau 3-pointer gave the Centaurs a 7-4 lead at the end of the first quarter.
“They took away some things from us offensively. They jammed up the middle, made it a little tougher on us. They are the best 3-2 (zone) team that I’ve seen so far that defends the middle. Very good job by them,” Fleeton said.
The Centaurs, however, played just as tough.
The Bellringers made only two first half baskets and were just 0-for-1 from the floor in the second quarter.
That came as a result of five turnovers, four Woodstock Academy fouls and a very deliberate offensive style by the Centaurs.
“That’s defense,” Fleeton said. “I felt good about our ‘D’. I think early, we weren’t making our rotations. It wasn’t that we weren’t playing hard, we were getting there a step late. They’re pretty smart and got us in foul trouble.”
The Centaurs led 11-8 at the half and 17-15 at the end of the third.
But they trailed, 21-20, with 47 seconds left in regulation after Field made a pair of free throws. Tracey sent the game into overtime when she made one of two from the charity stripe with 28 seconds left.
The Centaurs were coming off another fine defensive effort on Monday when they stopped Lyman Memorial, 41-19.
Tracey finished with 10 and Gaudreau nine in that victory.
Centaurs qualify for state tournament
The biggest win of the season.
That’s what Woodstock Academy girls basketball coach Will Fleeton was thinking after his Centaurs downed East Lyme, 51-46, Saturday afternoon at the Alumni Fieldhouse.
It was the first win over an Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I opponent.
“We needed a win in the division for our confidence,” Fleeton said. “Obviously, we could reach a lot of our goals without getting (a divisional win). It wasn’t a high priority for the girls but I will be honest and tell you that it was something I wanted. To get one reinforces, with our division being so tough, that we’re able to build the confidence to rise to the challenge. I think it was bigger than the actual ‘W’ because I think now maybe the team believes that it is quality.”
The other thing that the win accomplished was that it officially qualified the Centaurs (8-7, 1-4 Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I) for the Class LL state tournament.
“That’s a goal the girls early in the year wanted to go after,” Fleeton said. “Knowing that we got bumped up to LL and a lot of people thought we wouldn’t be there or didn’t deserve to be there. It was good to get that out of the way. I was hoping it would come before now. It’s a relief for the players. Maybe now we can continue to advance because we got that goal out of the way. Now, we can finish off the season.”
The Centaurs had to rally from a from a halftime deficit.
East Lyme held only a one-point advantage, 12-11, after the first quarter.
But the Vikings (11-7, 2-3) found their bearings in the second quarter.
East Lyme outscored the Centaurs, 20-10, to take a 31-22 halftime lead.
The Centaurs, who have thrived off their defensive presence this season, put that to use in the second half.
They limited the Vikings to just six points in the third and nine in the fourth to come out with the win.
“Every possession mattered both ways,” Fleeton said. “It was a tight battle to the end and I’m just very proud of the kids to see their mental fortitude and toughness. They stayed locked in and focused and played a full four quarters.”
The inside players were the key for Woodstock Academy.
Senior forward Heather Converse and junior Katie Papp both finished with 17 points.
“We had a great effort in the paint, both defensively and offensively, rebounding the ball, and trying to even out the size advantage that (East Lyme) has,” Fleeton said.
In addition to Converse and Papp, Rachel Lambert came off the bench and, despite not scoring, added some key plays inside the paint.
Kayla Gaudreau was dangerous from the outside. She dropped a trio of 3-pointers on the Vikings.
Megan Bauman paced the Vikings with a game-high 18 while Sophie Dubreuil added 10.
“They are a quality team,” Fleeton said. “To use them as a gauge as to where we are, or where we can get to, is very important. I also think the kids themselves, they felt whether we won or lost (Saturday) was a little redemption because we did not bring our game when we played them earlier in the year.”
The Centaurs lost that game in East Lyme, 65-42.
The Centaurs needed the win after a game in New London last Monday.
The Whalers broke out to a 20-point lead by halftime and rolled to a 57-29 win over the Centaurs.
“I thought we played pretty well (at New London), we were just dealing with a monster,” Fleeton said with a chuckle. “I think it actually may have helped us (Saturday). We played our hearts out in that game, didn’t get the ‘W’ but playing pretty well is what we’re after. It may have given us a little confidence to go into the (East Lyme) game.”