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Week of Dec. 18: Fourth quarter defense lifts Centaurs past Ellington

The Woodstock Academy girls basketball team gave itself a little pre-holiday present.

A perfect week.

The Centaurs finished that off on Saturday with a 47-35 win over Ellington in a non-league game at the Alumni Fieldhouse.

It completed a 3-0 week for Woodstock Academy which raised its record to 4-1 overall.

The Centaurs had to work against the Purple Knights.

They opened a three-point lead in the first quarter thanks to a balanced attack which saw six players contribute to the 17-point effort.

But Ellington (4-2) answered in the second quarter, outscoring the Centaurs by four to take a 27-26 lead into the locker room.

At the end of three, it was tied at 33.

But sophomore guard Kaylee Saucier scored six of her 11 points in the fourth quarter and it was more than Woodstock Academy needed.

The defense stifled the Purple Knights, limiting them to two points to assure the Centaurs the win.

Isabel D’Alleva Bochain led the way with 12 points and Eva Monahan added seven.

Looking for a spark.

That was the situation that Woodstock Academy coach Will Fleeton found himself in against Coventry on earlier in the week at the Alumni Fieldhouse.

He found it.

He actually found two sparks, Sidney Anderson and Sophia Sarkis, and they carried the Centaurs to a 56-43 win over the Patriots of the North Central Connecticut Conference.

The Centaurs scored only four first-quarter points when Fleeton turned to his bench.

“We had a rough start in the first but I got a big contribution from the bench, that’s always a positive and something I’m always looking for. You have to have some firepower or some type of adjustment from the bench whether it’s scoring, defending or rebounding, you want to have players come in and inject themselves into the game and make an immediate impact and I had that (Thursday) with Sarkis and Anderson,” Fleeton said.

The Centaurs trailed Coventry, 8-4, going into the second quarter.

Woodstock Academy put 26 points on the board in the second quarter alone thanks to the efforts of Anderson and Sarkis.

Anderson, a 6-foot sophomore, scored 12 of her 14 points in the game in that eight-minute span and Sarkis, a junior, added nine of her 13.

“I think we were just a spark off the bench and helped our intensity on defense, especially rebounding. We upped our game in rebounding, which helped us really focus on the defense,” Anderson said.

For Fleeton, the two did exactly what he had envisioned for them.

“To start the season, that is where we placed them and they gave me exactly what I was looking for (Thursday),” Fleeton said. “We were a little off-balance to start, I don’t know why but we seemed to be a little not like ourselves, and those two came in an provided a lift, and got us on track, then everyone else got back to the norm.”

The Centaurs opened a 30-14 advantage at the half and what was just as important, was that the Patriots would not get closer than 12 the remainder of the way.

“I was hoping we would turn it up a little bit more but we held our own, stayed where we were, kept up the intensity, and continued to do it on the defensive end,” Fleeton said.

D’Alleva-Bochain added 11 points in the win.

Another big number for the Centaurs in the game – 18 offensive rebounds.

Monahan and Vivian Bibeau had five apiece.

“Those are the ones I cherish,” Fleeton said with a smile. “The defensive deflections, the steals, rebounding, all of those little things that people kind of overlook but make this game great. They may not make the highlight reel on Sportscenter, but they make the highlight reel at WA.”

The sophomore class stepped up to begin the week for the Centaurs.

Woodstock Academy traveled to Waterford for an Eastern Connecticut Conference non-divisional contest and came home with a 53-25 victory.

“It was almost a perfect game,” Fleeton said. “Defense led the way. We got out in transition and I was definitely impressed with our effort at Waterford. We were at our best at moments in that game.”

The two teams battled evenly in the first quarter with the Centaurs able to sneak ahead, 12-10.

Woodstock Academy opened things up in the second quarter against the Lancers, scoring 17 points, nine coming on a pair of 3-pointers from Saucier and her sophomore classmate, Anderson,  who also added a trey.  

The long-distance accuracy and a stingy defense gave the Centaurs the 29-12 halftime advantage.

Anderson added 10 points to finish with 13 on the night and D'Alleva-Bochain added half of her team-high 14 in the third quarter as Woodstock Academy pulled away.

Saucier also finished in double digits with 11.

The two wins give the Centaurs a 3-1 record.

“For sure I’m happy,” Fleeton said. “We have got off to a decent start, have played some quality opponents. We’ve had some ups and downs, some struggles like we did (against Coventry), and we just have to learn from those and it will make us better in the future.”

The girls get a bit of a break for the holiday.

But they had best rest up as it will be a busy week.

They are now off until Thursday when they take part in the Cranston (R.I.) holiday tournament.

The second game of that tournament will take place on Thursday before they return to the Alumni Fieldhouse for a home game on Saturday against Amistad at noon.