Woodland’s ‘unsung heroes’ lift Hawks over Wildcats

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SEYMOUR — What a time for Woodland’s best performance of the season.

Three Hawks scored in double figures and Woodland outscored Seymour, 35-12, in the second half to pull away with a 61-31 win Tuesday night on the Wildcats’ senior night.

Woodland’s second-half effort was perhaps its best stretch of basketball of the season. The Hawks moved the ball superbly and kept the ‘Cats off balance with a variety of drives, outside jump shots, and plenty of second- and third-chance points.

Woodland coach Tom Hunt said the quick ball movement allowed several different players to get good opportunities. In all, eight players scored for the Hawks.

“We talked at halftime about sharing the ball and getting everybody better looks,” Hunt said. “We needed to share the ball and play like a team. There have been some times where the score dictates that guys take shots that aren’t in the offense. Tonight we made the one extra pass to guys that were open for better looks.”

The Hawks first pulled away midway through the second quarter with a 9-2 run over 2:14 that took the lead from 15-14 to 24-16.

The run was started by a pretty give-and-go between Sean Deegan and Yahmad Rountree (game-high 16 points), who finished with a lay-up and the foul.

Rahmi Rountree (10 points) hit a pair of 3-pointer to cap the run and help Woodland to a 26-19 halftime lead.
Throughout the season, the Hawks have let teams creep back in the game during the third quarter. Nothing could have been farther from reality Tuesday.

Woodland sped out of the locker room on an 8-0 run as four different Hawks scored, including a Ryan Angeloszek (14 points) 3-pointer that pushed the lead to double digits for the first time.

“It was definitely something we discussed in practice how when we come out in the second half with a lead that we’ve been settling for jump shots instead of working the offense,” Hunt said. “We addressed it again at the half. We weren’t going to settle for outside shots. We were going to penetrate and open up shots.”

Angeloszek scored seven of his 14 points in the quarter but the Wildcats snuck back to within nine on a 3-pointer by Alex Barton with 1:40 to play.

Yahmad hit a free throw before Dan Giacomazzi scored a fast-break layup to extend the lead to 41-29 after the third.
Then the floodgates opened.

Woodland started the fourth quarter on a 15-0 run, including nine points and two 3-pointers by Tanner Kingsley, to take a 56-29 lead. The Hawks didn’t allow a field goal for the last 9:40 of the game and outscored Seymour, 20-2, in the fourth period.
Kingsley scored all nine of his points during the 4-minute run to start the quarter while Angeloszek knocked down another 3-pointer later in the period. Hunt noticed both players throughout the game.

“One of the big things was that Angeloszek still went to the boards and did all the little things even though he wasn’t making his shots in the first half,” Hunt said. “Tanner’s one of our unsung heroes. When he catches the ball on the wing, he has a lot of confidence.”

Hunt also credited the team’s defense, and particularly that of Deegan, who held Seymour’s leading scorer Louis Krohelski to five points.

“Sean Deegan is another unsung hero,” Hunt said. “He put the clamps on one of the better scorers in the NVL. The team was taking the momentum from Sean and everyone was feeding off it.”

Now, Woodland heads to the Naugatuck Valley League tournament for the first time since 2005 and just the second time in program history. Pairings were to be officially released Friday, but it appeared as though the Hawks would be the No. 7 seed and play No. 2 Crosby at 1:45 p.m. at Wilby High.

Hunt is confident in his team, which he said has shown the ability to compete with any team in the league for a full game.

“There were only two games this season—the St. Paul games—that we didn’t have a chance to win in the fourth quarter,” Hunt said. “We’ve shown character throughout the year. The Holy Cross game (a 48-45 loss), even though we didn’t win, our guys proved they could hang with the No. 1 team in the league.”