Week 1: Woodstock Academy off to a 2-1 start
The Woodstock Academy girls basketball team passed another test on Saturday.
The young Centaurs found themselves in a pitched battle with Amistad at the Alumni Fieldhouse as the Wolves put down the first two baskets of the final quarter to climb within a point.
Woodstock Academy answered the bell.
The Centaurs scored the next 12 points and posted a 51-38 win over Amistad to raise their record to 2-1 on the season.
“Every minute, no matter what is happening whether it’s positive or negative, is a learning opportunity for my youngsters. We got off to a decent lead and they came back, so there was a little struggle there. The pressure got on a little bit and that’s stuff that we will carry with us and, hopefully, be able to manage in a game in the future because of this one,” Woodstock Academy coach Will Fleeton said.
It was a team effort against the Wolves.
Forward Eva Monahan scored seven of her 13 points in the first quarter but got into a little foul trouble and wouldn’t score again until the final quarter.
But she made those count.
The forward hit a pair of free throws to put the Centaurs back up by three early in the fourth quarter and then added a pair of baskets to make it a seven-point, 41-34, advantage with 6 minutes, 7 seconds to play.
“We definitely need Eva. We look to get it into her,” Fleeton said. “I think she got off to a slow start but the good thing is that she stays focused and stays locked in and when she’s called on, she comes right back and tries to do her job.”
When the ball was not going down for Monahan inside, it was going down for freshman guard Kaylee Saucier.
The point guard scored 13 of her team-high 15 points in the second and third quarters to keep the Centaurs ahead.
“I love it,” Saucier said of her first three games as a high school varsity player. “Most of the girls I have played with in middle school or in the summer, so I’m having fun. We all played AAU together coming in so there is chemistry and it helps getting wins early.”
Fleeton was also happy with the contributions of a couple of other freshman players, Sidney Anderson and Allison Camara.
“The biggest takeaway from (Saturday) was that I got quality minutes from a few bench players to the point that I almost let them go the rest of the way. We got quality minutes from Camara and big-time minutes from Anderson. We had the foul trouble early and they held it down for us. That’s huge,” Fleeton said.
It was hard to pick out who had the best night for the girls basketball team in its home opener earlier in the week.
That’s because quite a few had strong performances in a 51-27 win over non-league foe, Tolland, at the Alumni Fieldhouse.
“Those are good nights,” Fleeton said with a laugh. “If you have a hard time separating who played the best, we must be doing OK.”
The Centaurs actually did better than OK after a bit of a slow start.
The ball just wouldn’t fall in the first quarter but there was a silver lining to the slim 10-6 lead.
Woodstock Academy took 20 shots compared to just seven for the Eagles (0-1).
“We were getting (the ball) inside, we just weren’t getting dividends from it,” Fleeton said.
That changed in the second quarter.
The Centaurs scored 11 of the first 12 points including a 3-pointer by Saucier to open a 21-7 lead.
Tolland did come back a bit in the final 2 ½ minutes of the half, getting all four of its made baskets in that time span to cut the deficit to eight, 23-15, at the break.
But things truly came together in the third quarter.
Sophia Sarkis scored 30 seconds into the quarter off an assist from Monahan.
After a Tolland miss, Monahan was on the receiving end of a no-look pass from Saucier and, after a Tolland turnover, returned the favor with a nice dish to Sarkis.
“The chemistry is just really good on this team,” Monahan said of the assists being given and received. “When we get these options, we can see and we’re all getting better at looking at the whole court and finding the open looks. We’re all really good at sharing the ball.”
Fleeton agreed with that assessment.
“I think, obviously, it’s good basketball being played but I think this group has a love for each other and that makes it a little easier to find the open person just like you want from any team. It’s almost by default that they want to see their buddy do well. You may see the negative of forcing a pass and not taking a shot over someone being selfish but that’s a good thing,” Fleeton said.
The Centaurs clicked off 13 of the first 15 points in the second half to double up the score on the Eagles, 34-17.
The Centaurs extended that lead to 20-plus by late in the quarter and never led by less.
Monahan finished with 17 points to lead the Centaurs to the win in front of the home crowd.
“It feels really good,” Monahan said of the victory. “At the beginning of the season, we wanted to get a win. We didn’t get it on the road but this one at home was really a great effort. The team is super-athletic this year. We really ran the floor. We just had fun out there.”
Saucier finished with 13 points while Sarkis added 12.
Freshman Isabel D’Alleva-Bochain had three 3-pointers in her high school debut and finished with 13 points in the season opener early in the week for the Centaurs but the inside-outside punch of host Coventry proved to be too much as the Patriots prevailed, 49-32,
Forward Jianna Foran scored 20 points and guard Charlotte Jordan added 19 to lead Coventry to the win on its home floor.
Leila MacKinnon added six points for the Centaurs while Saucier tossed in five.