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Week 10: Woodstock Academy scores wins on 2 special nights

It was a good week to have a pair of good efforts for the Woodstock Academy boys basketball team.

On Tuesday, the six seniors on the Woodstock Academy boys basketball team got a proper send off as Senior night was held at the Alumni Fieldhouse prior to the game with Waterford.

The Centaurs pulled off a 55-45 win.

They followed that up with a 58-51 victory over Griswold on Thursday in the final home game for the seniors.

“We just wanted to keep it rolling, win our last game here on this floor and we have one more game and just want to try and win out for the season,” senior Brandon Nagle said.

Woodstock Academy has a final regular season game on the road at Old Lyme on Monday and will play in the Eastern Connecticut Conference tournament.

It has a quarterfinal contest against Fitch in Groton on Thursday.

But this past Thursday was the last time that the Centaur seniors wore the home jerseys.

“It was great to get the win and I truly believe they deserved it,” Woodstock Academy coach Donte Adams said of the win over Griswold. “At the end of the day, those guys are our leaders. They’re buying in, taking accountability every day. I’m definitely glad that for the past two games, they have come in here and put on a show for the fans and, most importantly, got a ‘W’.”

Griswold, outside of an opening basket by Carter Morissette, jumped out to the quick lead in the first half and held it throughout the majority of the first 16 minutes. The visitors went into the locker room with a 26-23 advantage.

But Woodstock Academy took control in the third quarter.

A 3-pointer by Hunter Larson (nine points) put the Centaurs up, 35-32.

Griswold could have tied it from the free throw line but missed all three of their opportunities. Woodstock Academy took advantage by scoring nine of the next 14 points to take a seven-point lead into the final quarter.

The fourth quarter has not been kind recently to the Centaurs but they held their own against Griswold, built a double-digit lead and withstood the expected rally, never letting the visitors get closer than five points.

“I don’t get nervous but I certainly remember the past games where we have messed it up,” Nagle said about the fourth quarter woes. “We just had to key in, make smart moves and keep everyone thinking smart.”

Nagle finished with 15 points to lead Woodstock Academy while sophomore Garrett Bushey added 12 including a pair of second half 3-pointers. Another sophomore, Brady Ericson, contributed a double-double; 11 points and 10 rebounds and threw in five blocks for good measure.

Prior to the game with Waterford earlier in the week, Jackson Gallagher, Morissette, Braiden Saucier, James D’Alleva-Bochain, Nagle and Austin Amlaw were honored on Senior Night for their participation over the years.

“It was so special. We had a great crowd come out (Tuesday). The pep band had a huge section with a lot of energy and we worked hard and pulled it off,” Saucier said.

It was also the first crop of seniors to finish their high school career under Adams’ guidance.

“Even though this season was a roller coaster, I’m going to miss them a lot,” the Woodstock Academy coach said. “All of them brought a different aspect to the team and to the game. I wish I had the same group another year but it’s all about building and rebuilding and the guys who are juniors and so forth are going to have to be ready to play and to take after our seniors.”

The Centaurs treated the home crowd to the win over the Lancers.

Waterford played with plenty of intensity early.

The Lancers were able to get the ball into 6-foot-8 center Juan Morel Jr. early and he capitalized with a couple of buckets to help the Lancers pull out to an 8-3 advantage.

But Woodstock Academy fought back.

It trailed by only three by the end of the quarter and then pulled ahead just 2 minutes, 9 seconds into the second quarter when Bushey sank a 3-pointer to make it 13-11 in favor of the host team.

The Centaurs would not trail again.

Six points by Nagle, who finished with a team-high 16 points, helped Woodstock Academy build a 26-18 halftime lead.

Waterford got close fast in the third quarter when it scored seven unanswered points out of the locker room.

“It’s a game of runs,” Morissette said. “We got out ahead but we knew they would eventually come back. We just had to get it back and we did that well in the fourth quarter which felt great.”

The most important piece being that Woodstock Academy never let Waterford get ahead.

Thanks, in part to Nagle, who scored seven third-quarter points.

“I felt like I was ‘on’ (Tuesday) so I felt like I had to keep shooting. I haven’t been shooting great but since they were falling, I just kept shooting,” Nagle said.

The Lancers tied the game at 35 on a three-point play by Logan Peabody (19 points) just 11 seconds into the fourth quarter.

Woodstock Academy responded by scoring the next 13 points.

Larson scored four of his eight points in that run and Bushey, who finished with nine points, added another 3-pointer.

The offense was good, the defense may have been better.

Saucier said a key part to the victory was the energy on the floor which he thought started on the defensive end as the Centaurs were able to get “stop-after-stop.”

But at the end of the night, it being Senior Night has a way of bringing reality close to home.

The high school career is just about over.

“I’m going to miss this so much,” Nagle said. “Playing with my boys every single day, it’s going to be very interesting for me next year not being out here every single day. I’m going to miss it a lot.”

The Centaurs will take a 6-13 record into their final regular season game against Old Lyme.

 “I know our record doesn’t look great but I don’t think it represents our season. We’ve lost three games in overtime, we had a bunch of close games and we’ve been in every game except maybe two so it felt good to get this one,” Saucier said of the Waterford victory.

Unfortunately, it is one loss too many to make the state tournament.

“I still have nightmares,” Adams said with a smile. “When I have spare time, I just sit there and think that I just wish we could get one of those (close) games back. The crazy part is, though, I’m enjoying it. It’s made me a better coach. They are coming in and getting better every day and I’m just happy to see how they are competing at the end.”

There is the ECC tournament still to shoot for.

Woodstock Academy goes in as the sixth seed and will have to go to Groton on Thursday to play the third-seeded Falcons.

But the Centaurs did take Fitch to overtime in their first meeting of the season at the Alumni Fieldhouse before falling, 61-55. The game in Groton did not go as well as the Falcons prevailed, 52-33.

“We get to play another day. We’ve lost to Fitch two times but I like our chances with the way we’re playing and with how we’re handling pressure. If we defend how we’re supposed to and how we’ve been doing, we will be fine,” Adams said.

With the basketball season winding down, it means the final sports season for high school seniors, spring, is right around the corner and the baseball field is calling for Morissette.

“I can’t wait. We’re going to be really good this year so I’m really looking forward to it,” Morissette said.