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Week 2: Centaurs hold off Stonington, 68-62

It may have taken a little convincing by first-year head coach Donte Adams but it appears Brady Ericson has found a true home for the Woodstock Academy boys basketball team.

In the paint.

The 6-foot-6 sophomore has the range to step outside for the 3-pointers, but is much more valuable inside for the Centaurs.

He proved that the week before when he put 27 points down in a loss to Windham without the benefit of a trey.

He followed that up on Tuesday with a 16-point effort, with all the hoops coming from inside, to lead the Centaurs to their first win of the season, 68-62 at Stonington.

Ericson also had a double-digit effort against East Lyme on Thursday, but Woodstock Academy came up just short, 56-55, in overtime to fall to 1-3 on the season.

“He was really big on the boards and he was a beast down low,” Adams said about Ericson's effort against Stonington. “That’s where he has to live at. I know he can stretch the floor a bit and we can rely on him to do that but we need him to play in the post because that’s where he will make the greatest contribution to the team. The last two games, he has bought in and it has worked because he is playing his best basketball so far.”

That, despite, battling shin splints.

Ericson scored half of his 16 points in the decisive fourth quarter but he got some help from another sophomore, Garrett Bushey.

Bushey was ice from the line as he made 5-of-6 free throws in the fourth quarter to finish with 11 points.

“(Stonington) started to cut into our lead and Garrett came up big as far as making free throws to help us seal the game. That was great poise by him,” Adams said.

He wasn’t the only one playing with poise.

The Centaurs were playing without senior guard Brandon Nagle who was out with an injury.

Junior Hunter Larson stepped into the starting role and finished with 10 points.

“He approached the game better than what I expected,” Adams admitted as Larson was making his first varsity start. “I told him that the first two games we played were in the past and to forget about them. He started and handled the pressure really well, being that he had to handle the ball more, and played his type of game.”

Larson wasn’t the only player who stepped it up.

Junior Teddy Richardson also saw his time on the floor boosted due to Nagle’s absence and he responded with a 10-point effort of his own.

“I told him all he had to do was find his groove and he let it come to him. He came off the bench, played hard, got some offensive rebounds, dove on the floor and that led to him getting some open shots,” Adams said.

Carter Morissette also tossed in 11 points, and according to Adams, had the best defensive effort on the team against the Bears.

It was an up-and-down game for the first three quarters.

The Centaurs led, 17-13, after the first quarter only to see Stonington (2-1) put down 20 points in the second quarter to take a 33-29 lead at the half.

The Bears went up by eight points in the third but Woodstock Academy rallied to take a 51-47 lead into the final quarter and held off the Bears by getting two more points than them in the fourth.

“I told the guys that once we get one (win) on the board, we will be fine. The great thing about it is that we went into Stonington, a very tough environment, and they were 2-0 and we were 0-2. It finally came full circle for us. We were up the first game, came back in the second game and this was a mixture of the two. We were up, down, fought back, and were finally able to finish a close game,” Adams said.

The Centaurs traveled to East Lyme on a stormy Thursday night and had an up-and-down night on the court as well.

Woodstock Academy, behind three first half 3-pointers from Bushey (11 points), built a 31-18 lead at the break.

The Vikings (2-1) couldn't cut into that deficit much in the third quarter as they still trailed, 46-34, going into the fourth.

But things got better for the hosts in the final quarter as they were able to tie the game at 50 and forced the overtime where they finished one point better than the Centaurs.

Ericson led Woodstock Academy with 14 points while Larson added 11 to the effort. Nagle did return to the lineup and finished with nine points.