Centaurs pg 9 1-31-19

Centaurs hang
with Whalers
'til the end
Early in the season, the New London boys’ basketball team appeared to be ripe for upset possibilities after it lost six of its first seven games including a game at Killingly.
That loss might have served as the wake-up call that the Whalers needed.
They came into Woodstock Academy having won three of their last four including victories over Fitch and Stonington.
That momentum carried into the Alumni Fieldhouse for New London Jan. 24.
The Centaurs hung with the Whalers until the very end, but fell short, losing 66-62.
“It was a great battle. We strung together a lot of great possessions and a lot of great stops, but at crunch time, they’re the ones you remember,” said Woodstock Academy coach Marty Hart.
And those possessions were not as memorable.
The Centaurs (5-6) opened a four-point lead, 55-51, with 4 minutes, 29 seconds to play when Chase Anderson (27 points) hit a 3-pointer.
The Whalers got four of the next five points, but were still down three when Jake Marsalisi went aggressively to the basket and put down the layup.
Marsalisi finished with seven points off the bench.
“He really gave us a lift. We need that ball-handling, he’s a nice slasher, a pretty long kid, and it was good to see him attack the basket,” Hart said.
The Whalers forged ahead on consecutive baskets from Jabari Jones and Tayeshawn Cunningham-Pemberton. Pemberton was also fouled and completed the three-point play to put the Whalers (5-7) up by two.
Anderson tied it with 1:23 left, but Jones (13 points) put the Whalers ahead to stay 19 seconds later.
Pemberton hit two of four free throws, with a Centaur turnover in between, to extend the lead to four with 21 seconds left.
The Centaurs had a chance to respond, but Aaron Johnson’s 3-pointer was just off the mark and Anderson couldn’t get a follow to fall.
“They have length and athleticism and are able to guard us in front and poke check the ball out,” Hart said.
The Centaurs were forced to foul and Noah James (22 points) hit a pair of free throws to seal the Whaler win.
Ethan Adams put down an outside shot for the Centaurs as time expired.
New London threatened to make it a run away early.
The Whalers doubled up on the Centaurs in the first 4:15 of the game with James hitting a trio of 3’s to help New London build an 18-9 lead.
It would grow to 12 before a pair of free throws by Eric Preston reduced the deficit to 10, 23-13, by the end of the quarter.
“We thought we would press them to see if they would shoot the 3, they answered that question (New London hit five from beyond the arc in the first quarter),” Hart said. “We had to match up on their shooters so we went to a 3-2 and we were just a little slow on location. We were plugging holes in the dam as quickly as we could.”
The fixes worked in the second quarter and it helped spark a 9-0 run with four different players scoring. Adams’ three-point play pulled the Centaurs within one, 23-22, with 6:24 left in the half.
The Whalers rebuilt a five-point advantage, but the Centaurs rallied again and an Anderson basket with just over a minute left in the half sent the two teams into the locker room tied at 34.
The biggest lead in the third quarter was three points.
“For us, it’s stringing together more and more of the right possessions. We’re limiting the possessions that hurt us; the defensive run-out, second-chance points or turnovers instead of quality shots. That group of possessions is getting smaller and the possessions where the ball goes inside, pops out and kicks and we get a good shot in rhythm, is increasing. If we continue to do that and maintain our composure, it should do us well down the stretch,” Hart said.
The Centaurs opened the week with a 76-62 loss to the Waterford Lancers in Southeast Connecticut.
While it was a double-digit defeat, the Centaurs were able to hang with the Lancers (11-1).
“We were able to solve their defense pretty well and we defended them in a way that gave them some challenges. They turned the ball over more than they expected to,” Hart said.
The Centaurs were consistent.
They scored 15 points in each of the first three quarters.
It was good enough to hang with Waterford.
The Lancers led by only two at the end of the first and eight at halftime.
The Centaurs actually pulled ahead by a point, 45-44, late in the third quarter.
“They called a time out, made an adjustment and threw some pressure at us that promoted some mistakes and by the time we got re-organized, it was an eight-point game. We played them evenly the rest of the way. So it was a possession here or there, closing out the quarter and taking the last shot instead of taking it early and giving it to them a chance. It’s all part of the maturity process,” Hart said.
Anderson, who is now averaging 18.9 points per game, finished with 24 while Johnson hit a pair of 3’s and ended the game with 10.
Marc Allard
Sports Information Director
The Woodstock Academy


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