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Week 4: Centaurs qualify for Class L state tournament

The Woodstock Academy girls basketball team has reached the halfway point of the regular season.

And it already has attained one of its primary goals.

A 39-28 win over Plainfield at the Alumni Fieldhouse on Saturday afternoon qualified the Centaurs for the Class L state tournament, something it missed out on a year ago.

Woodstock Academy is now 8-2 and is currently ranked seventh in Class L.

“I’m not sure if (the team) is aware of that,” Woodstock Academy coach Will Fleeton said of making the state tournament which is guaranteed if a team wins 40 percent of its games although teams can qualify with less than that percentage dependent on the number of teams in the division who do.

“I think we would have qualified (with the seventh win over Waterford) but I don’t like doubts so I didn’t say anything until it was definite and this game makes it a definite. I think this is a great bounce back for the program to get back into the tournament where we belong,” Fleeton said.

But he’s also cognizant that there is still a long way to go.

“I can’t grade it yet,” Fleeton said with a smile when asked what mark he would give his team at this point of the season. “I think we’re still a work in progress and I’m a little nervous about that because I still don’t fully know who and where we are but it’s good to have eight wins and not really know that.”

Junior co-captain Reegan Reynolds certainly knew what the win over Plainfield meant and what a difference a year can make.

“It’s definitely a big boost for us because last year, we didn’t have this kind of record. It’s really great to get these early-season wins,” Reynolds said.

 It looked like it was going to be pretty easy.

The Centaurs used five points from freshman Isabel D’Alleva-Bochain and classmate Sidney Anderson added a 3-pointer in the first quarter to help the hosts build a 14-2 lead.

Back came Plainfield.

“Plainfield is going to fight to the end, that’s typically what it does. They’re a scrappy bunch, they have always been, and I knew it wasn’t over that early. We had to do more,” Fleeton said.

The Panthers (3-4) went on a 13-2 run to close within a point.

Fortunately, the Centaurs scored the last five points of the half to hold a six-point advantage, 21-15, going into the locker room.

Both teams struggled a bit to find the basket in the second half.

The Centaurs only got four baskets in the third quarter, but their defense stood up and held the Panthers to just two to extend their lead to 10 points, 29-19, at the end of the third quarter.

Plainfield closed to within seven, but a 7-1 run for Woodstock Academy closed out the win.

Sophomore forward Eva Monahan scored 11 points to lead the Centaurs.

“It was another local one and those are important. I know in my day it was called bragging rights but that was a long time ago so I’m sure there is a different term for it but I think the local ones are good for the kids because they are all buddies,” Fleeton said.

It also came on the heels of a 41-25 setback to Killingly at home just two days before.

“We were a little low after the Killingly game, so it felt good to get a local win. These are girls we play with on AAU teams together so it really felt good playing against them,” the junior said of the victory over the Panthers.

Killingly went on a 9-0 run to end the first quarter of that game on Thursday and the Centaurs would never get closer than seven points the remainder of the way.

Take away a 2-for-14 second quarter effort and Killingly had the hot hands from the floor as it made 15-of-27 from the field in the first, third and fourth quarters.

Monahan paced the Centaurs with nine points.

Earlier in the week, Woodstock Academy made it seven in a row in the win column with a 49-36 win over Waterford on the road.

It was a nice come-from-behind effort against the Lancers.

The Centaurs trailed 25-21 at the half but were able to hold the host Lancers to just five points in the third quarter and led by a point going into the fourth.

That defensive effort translated to a good offensive performance in the final quarter when the Centaurs outscored the Lancers, 18-6.

"We kind of turned the page in the second half, turned it up a notch, made some shots and played a little better defense. I didn't know the exact number (of the score differential in the fourth) but I'm not surprised. That's how it felt as the game went along,” Fleeton said.

Monahan erupted for 10 of her team-high 16 points in the fourth.

"In certain games, we try to get it into her and play inside-out and (the Waterford game) was definitely one of those. She had a lot of looks in the first (half) and the ball just wasn't falling. She got the same looks in the second and put them all down. That was key," Fleeton said.

Sophomore Sophia Sarkis was the only other Centaur in double figures with 13 points.

"Sophia is as capable of scoring as everyone else. We talk about it a lot, but it makes for a qualify bunch when everybody can get points on any given night. That's what I strive to teach at this level. Not many teams have that opportunity or that luxury," Fleeton said.