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Week 1: Centaurs lose two tough ones to open season

If the season continues like this, Woodstock Academy first-year head coach Donte Adams may be sporting a little less hair at the end.

The Centaurs opened the season with a pair of nailbiters and unfortunately, both went the opponent’s way.

Fitch rallied in the season opener on Thursday at the Alumni Fieldhouse for a 61-55 victory in overtime. On Saturday, the Centaurs went on the road to Willimantic, fell behind Windham early and rallied but ended on the wrong side of a 59-55 score.

“I’m big on putting a full game together,” Adams said.

That didn’t happen against the Falcons.

The Centaurs looked really good in the first half as they were 12-of-20 from the floor and limited Fitch to 6-of-19 shooting.

That resulted in a 13-point halftime lead, 30-17.

A 3-pointer by Brandon Nagle (15 points) and a basket by Hunter Larson early in the third quarter extended that lead to 16, 35-19.

“I told my guys at halftime that we may be up by 13 but we still have the whole second half, let’s do all the things but more to get the game over with and also put a whole game together. But I feel like (Fitch) came out with more energy and more toughness,” Adams said.

That energy helped Fitch claw its way back and it trailed by only eight, 40-32, by the end of the third quarter.

The gap continued to close in the fourth quarter.

Woodstock Academy led by five, 50-45, with 25 seconds to play after a pair of free throws by Nagle.

But Fitch point guard Lorenzo Rivera hit just the second 3-pointer of the night for the Falcons to cut the lead to two with 15 seconds left.

Fitch immediately fouled Carter Morissette and the senior hit one of two from the charity stripe to restore a three-point Woodstock Academy advantage with 12 seconds left.

Unfortunately, it was not enough.

Senior Van Spruill tied the game for the Falcons at the buzzer, hitting a 3-pointer, to send the game into the extra period.

“I’ve been on both sides of that situation where guys have hit a buzzer beater (on his team) and where someone hit one on us. It’s tough. Kudos to the kid who hit the shot. There was a lot going through my mind that we could have done this or that, but at the end of the day, he hit a real tough shot,” Adams said.

Fitch carried that momentum into overtime as Mike Wagner and Rivera both hit hoops to give the Falcons the quick lead.

“They took that momentum and went with it,” Adams said.

The Falcons were then just good enough from the line where they hit 6-of-12 in overtime to seal the victory.

The Centaurs were 4-for-4 from the line in the overtime but missed all seven of their shots from the field.

Brady Ericson added 15 for the Centaurs in the loss.

The 6-foot-6 sophomore came up big against the Whippets and almost carried the Centaurs across the finish line against the Whippets.

The Whippets (2-0, 1-0 Eastern Connecticut Conference Division II) gradually built a lead against Woodstock Academy on Saturday.

The hosts went up by two at the end of the first quarter and were up by 11, 30-19, at the half. Travis Mangual scored 11 of his 15 points in the first half while Malcolm Hunter added 10 of his team-high 25.

Windham held that lead going into the fourth quarter, increasing it only modestly, as they led 43-31 but Ericson became a one-man wrecking crew in the fourth.

He dominated in the paint and got 17 of his game-high 27 points to pull the Centaurs (0-2, 0-2 ECC Division II) close, but it wasn’t enough as the Whippets hung on for the four-point win.

Morissette added eight points for Woodstock Academy.