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Week of Jan. 8: Key plays and strong player performances lift Centaurs past Killingly

Killingly was on a run.

It had cut the Woodstock Academy girls basketball team lead to eight points midway through the fourth quarter Thursday.

Up stepped Isabel D’Alleva-Bochain.

The Centaurs sophomore guard put down a 3-pointer that ignited a Centaur run which helped guarantee a 51-36 victory.

“That came off a set in-bounds play and we’re a true team, we all do it together and have faith in each other. That set play calls for Isabel to take that three from the corner. I had confidence that she would knock it down and she knocked it down,” said Woodstock Academy coach Will Fleeton.

It had not been the best shooting night for D’Alleva-Bochain, but there was no hesitation.

“It’s just about momentum in these games, they were kind of coming back and we had to shut them down again.I think a lot of our baskets did that over the course of the game especially in a rivalry game like this, you just have to cut them off before they start getting hot,” D’Alleva-Bochain said.

There were a lot of individual moments like that against Killingly.

Junior center Eva Monahan got two quick fouls so Fleeton rotated in Sophia Sarkis.

Sarkis scored seven of her nine points in the second quarter and Woodstock Academy went into the half with a 20-8 lead.

“Sophia came off the bench with Eva in foul trouble early and Sophia played so well that foul trouble was not an issue,” Fleeton said.

Through it all, point guard Kaylee Saucier did a stellar job, not only scoring where she led the Centaurs with 14 points, but also in distributing the ball.

“She was the quarterback (Thursday),” Fleeton said. “She hit some big shots when we needed them, she facilitated, paced the offense, kept everything in control. That was huge.”

Monahan added eight points and seven rebounds.

The win was the 11th in a row for the Centaurs and raised their overall record to 12-1.

They aren’t done yet.

“We want more,” D’Alleva-Bochain said. “13 would be more special.”

They will have to wait for that for a little bit.

The Centaurs now have a week off before playing at Norwich Free Academy on Thursday in an Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I clash.

Is it good for a team on a roll to have a break?

“I really don’t know because I take it one at a time, tomorrow I will answer that question because (Thursday) was all about (Thursday),” Fleeton said with a smile.

The school of thought in basketball  is that it’s always important to have a good start to a game and play well at the start of the third quarter.

Do those two things and more often than not, things will turn out good in the end.

It also doesn’t hurt to have a really nice fourth quarter.

Such was the case for the Centaurs earlier in the week.

Woodstock Academy went into the final quarter against Fitch in Groton up by a slim three-point margin.

It came out with a 44-28 victory thanks to a defense that allowed the Falcons just one point while the Centaurs’ offense put 14 down in the fourth.

“We play ‘D’,” Fleeton said. “If we can get after it defensively, every time we have those spurts with scoring issues, we’re still in the hunt, we’re never out of it. We didn’t score in the second quarter (against Fitch), it doesn’t get any worse than that but we only gave up seven (points). That margin is small enough that when we do get it going, in the blink of an eye, we’re back in it if we’re down and we take off with it if we’re up.”

Woodstock Academy had jumped on top of the Falcons, 14-9, in the first quarter but went cold in the second and Fitch crawled back to a four-point lead at the half.

Monahan, who finished with a team-high 16 points, and D’Alleva-Bochain helped the Centaurs forge a 30-27 lead going into the fourth as each scored seven third-quarter points.

Saucier scored five of her 10 points and Reegan Reynolds added five of her eight in the decisive final quarter.

The win over the Falcons raised the Centaurs record to 4-1 in Division I of the Eastern Connecticut Conference. They hold a one-game edge in the win column over the New London Whalers for the top spot in the division.