Week 10: Woodstock Academy falls to New London in ECC quarterfinal
The Woodstock Academy girls basketball team was looking forward to playing a perennial state power like New London.
Even though the Centaurs knew the going would be difficult, it was good experience to get a young team ready for the tougher roads that will lie ahead not only in the upcoming state tournament but also in the years ahead.
The top-seeded Whalers proved to be as tough as advertised as they posted a 74-30 win over the Centaurs in an Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I tournament quarterfinal game on Thursday.
Prior to going to the game, Woodstock Academy coach Will Fleeton was looking at it as a learning experience.
"It's got to be good, because I believe our freshmen, at this point in the season, are already in their sophomore year. We're learning, we're growing and we're going to take something from this as a group that will help us in the future. Any trip to play a quality team will only help us as well," Fleeton said.
The Centaurs hung tough early, trailing by only five points at the end of the first quarter.
But an injury made things difficult and helped allow the Whalers build a double-digit halftime lead that the Centaurs could not put a dent in.
Freshman Isabel D’Alleva-Bochain led Woodstock Academy with 10 points while senior Leila MacKinnon added eight.
The Centaurs, as the eighth-seed in the tournament, had a battle against Waterford Wednesday in an Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I tournament play-in game at the Alumni Fieldhouse where they prevailed, 52-36.
Waterford (6-15) was troublesome in the first half with Lucy Walker getting 10 of her 11 points in the first quarter and Julia Knowles had six of her 11 in the second.
That helped propel the Lancers to a 24-20 halftime lead.
"We tried to extend the defense a little bit. We didn't come out of our man (defense) but we came out of comfort zone, tried to extend, pick up three-quarter court and added a little pressure to see if (Waterford) could handle that. I think we were able to force turnovers which got us some transition points," Fleeton said.
Woodstock Academy in transition is Woodstock Academy at its best.
D'Alleva-Bochain flourished as she scored eight of her 16 points in the third quarter when the Centaurs outscored the Lancers, 17-4.
"We went down at halftime, talked to one another, and decided that we just had to execute what we know and play basketball," D'Alleva-Bochain said.
In all, the defense held Waterford to just 12 second half points.
"When you play defense, you get more offensive possessions and limit theirs. That helps you score more, too," D'Alleva-Bochain said.
Sophomore Eva Monahan picked it up in the fourth quarter with six of her team-high 18 points.
"I think (Monahan) came through on the block as they opened up their zone to deal with the two guards," Fleeton said.
In what was a marked improvement from the 2021-22 season, the Woodstock Academy girls basketball team finished the regular season earlier in the week with a 12-8 overall record.
The Centaurs final regular season game didn't take place too far from home as they traveled to Killingly early in the week and gave their hosts a tussle before falling, 37-33.
It was a defensive struggle throughout with Killingly holding a 12-10 first quarter lead.
But the scoreboard was pretty quiet in the second quarter with only eight points being scored and Killingly clinging to an 18-12 lead.
It got closer after three quarters as the Centaurs closed within three and got within a bucket with 3:29 left in the game when they trailed by only two, 31-29.
Killingly, however, was able to hold on for its 11th win of the season.
Sophia Sarkis led Woodstock Academy with 12 points, all of those coming in the second half.
The sophomore also continued her fine performance from outside the arc with a pair of 3-pointers.
D'Alleva-Bochain added seven points to the Centaur attack.
The season is not over for the girls basketball team although it will get a much-needed and much-deserved break.
Woodstock Academy has qualified for the Class L state tournament.
The official pairings have not been released yet but the Centaurs sit in the 15th slot and will host the No. 18 team, likely Masuk from Monroe, in a first-round game on Feb. 27th.