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Week of Feb. 12: Fleeton named as inaugural Eastern Connecticut Conference girls basketball Coach of the Year

The Eastern Connecticut Conference initiated a new pair of postseason awards this athletic season.

The league now asks each of its set of coaches to vote on a Player and Coach of the Year.

The inaugural Coach of the Year award in girls basketball, it was announced recently, went to Woodstock Academy coach Will Fleeton.

“It is special because of where it comes from. I have some quality peers, other coaches out there in the ECC, so to be recognized by them is truly an honor. I give all thanks to my kids, though. If they don’t get done what they have to, they don’t get recognized and if they don’t get recognized, neither do I,” Fleeton said.

Fleeton has been at the helm of the program for the Centaurs since the 2015-16 season and guided Woodstock Academy to a 15-5 regular season record this year.

In addition to Fleeton being honored, sophomore guard Isabel D’Alleva-Bochain was named an ECC Division I All-Star with junior center Eva Monahan getting honorable mention honors.

D’Alleva-Bochain is also the team’s ECC Scholar-Athlete while senior Reegan Reynolds is the ECC Sportsmanship Award recipient for the team.

Fleeton, originally, had been coaching boys basketball but made the transition to girls with the Centaurs.

“It was a little bit lifting at the time because it was new and new things are a challenge. It can be fun, and that’s definitely a bonus, and it’s been fun the whole ride. I’ve been lucky enough to have some high quality, high character kids who have bought into the program over the years. That has made it fun because if things go the other way, it’s not as much fun. Regardless of our record, year in and year out, it has been a pleasure to coach the girls at Woodstock Academy,” Fleeton added.

That transition from boys to girls is not without adjustment.

Fleeton said in certain areas, it is very similar but there are some that are dramatically different.

“I learned early on that some things I take for granted being a guy is important to a female and I have to respect that. I learn from them as much as they learn from me and we take it a step at a time together,” Fleeton said with a smile.

He did say the key is that he has had high character players to work with.

“How can I be disappointed when there is nothing but satisfaction and trying to do the right thing. All of the bigger picture stuff, they seem to have a good understanding of so how can I be disappointed? How? I get to work with good people daily who like basketball,” Fleeton said.

He is currently working with a core group of young players.

This year’s version of the Centaurs sports just two seniors, Reynolds and Kerry Blais and just five juniors.

“We’re battling, fighting and competing but I’m seeing team and individual growth by the minute. That’s a coach’s dream, seeing your players improve in an area that you have worked on. They have been improving by leaps and bounds and, at the same time, are still able to compete. Usually, you have to have some sort of development before you can compete at a high level but because they like the game so much, they put in extra time,” Fleeton said.

That growth certainly showed in the final game of the regular season.

The Centaurs saved their best offensive performance, points-wise, for last as they finished off the regular season with a 75-48 win over Somers on the road last week.

Four players finished in double figures for the Centaurs who dropped nine 3-pointers.

Guard Kaylee Saucier led the parade as she put down four 3-pointers, three in the third quarter, and finished with 20 points.

Fellow sophomore Sidney Anderson added 17 while both Monahan and D’Alleva-Bochain (three 3-pointers) added 13.

The shooting touch was not as much in evidence on Thursday when the Centaurs traveled to Groton for an Eastern Connecticut Conference tournament quarterfinal game at Fitch.

The fourth-seeded Falcons handed the No. 5 Centaurs a 46-36 loss.

Monahan led Woodstock Academy with 10 points, eight of those coming in the third quarter.

Saucier finished with eight points while Anderson added seven.

The Class L state tournament will be next for the Centaurs.

The official pairings have not been released yet but if the rankings hold true the seventh-seeded Centaurs would get a first-round bye and host either No. 10 Windsor or No. 23 Notre Dame-Fairfield in a second-round game on March 1.