you pg 11 2-21-19

Coaches never know what Senior Day may bring. Some teams get pumped up by it.  Others get distracted.
It’s even more difficult when eight seniors are being honored as was the case Feb. 16 for the Woodstock Academy boys’ basketball program.
Fortunately, it didn’t get in their way as the Centaurs posted a 58-46 win over Plainfield to raise their record to 9-9 on the season.
“I was hoping to get off to a good start. I think we battled. They knew us well and really matched up against us. The guys just stayed tough and our ability to handle pressure and our defense gave us the advantage,” said Woodstock Academy coach Marty Hart.
Prior to the game, the Centaurs honored seniors Aaron Johnson, Cole Hackett, Luke Mathewson, Eric Preston, John Rogers, Chase Anderson, Ethan Adams and Jake Marsalisi.
“It was a lot of posters, a lot of names on the wall. It’s bittersweet. I’m excited for them. They have been a great group. I’ve been lucky to have them for two years. We do graduate a lot so it will be interesting as we head into next season to bring guys up and fill spots,” Hart said.
The Centaurs didn’t fill the basket right away against the Panthers.
Plainfield (8-10), coming off a solid win over Griswold the night before, hit a couple of 3-pointers early and broke out to the 14-10 lead after the first quarter.
The Centaurs cut that in half at the break where Plainfield led only 22-20 going into the locker room.
Luke Mathewson scored all eight of his points in the game, five from the free throw line, in the third quarter.
The Centaurs also went into the final quarter with a little momentum on their side.
Preston launched a shot from halfcourt at the end of the third quarter that found the basket and increased the Centaurs lead to 38-30.
“Eric is the heart-and-soul of our team and he came in to help us out on defense. He goes out and hits a halfcourt shot at the end of the quarter really gave us a lift,” Hart said.
Anderson scored 12 of the Centaurs 20 fourth-quarter points and finished with a game-high 27 for Woodstock Academy.
The Centaurs were coming off a tough, 58-54, loss to Ellington Feb. 15. “We got off to a rough start,” Hart said.
Indeed, the Centaurs scored only three points in the opening quarter and trailed the Knights, 16-3.
“We were getting the shots we wanted. We just couldn’t get them to drop,” Hart said. Their fortunes changed in the second quarter when the Centaurs suddenly found the mark and scored 19 points to trail at the half, 30-22.
Ellington (16-4) edged it back up to 11, 45-34, at the end of the third quarter but made only two fourth quarter field goals. The Knights saved themselves by making 9 of 13 from the free throw line in the final quarter.
Anderson paced the Centaurs with 25 points while Hackett added 10.
Going into Monday, the Knights were ranked fourth in Division IV while the Centaurs are No. 21 and the game may have given the Centaurs an inkling of what the state tournament will be like.
“They are a very solid team. They have good length, good ballhandling and good shooters so when we played them, on their Senior Night on their home court, they had some good energy. I have to credit the guys to stick with it and keep chipping away. If we had played one more quarter, we would have been OK,” Hart said.
Hart said he is satisfied being at the .500 mark at this point of the season.
“We would like to have more (wins), a little lament over the few that got away, but by and large, we’ve competed, we’ve improved and found our identity as a team. Those things are going to be very important moving forward. I think we’re well positioned to make a run in the two tournaments we have in front of us,” Hart said.
It’s an interesting schedule for the Centaurs the remainder of the way.
They hosted Waterford on Tuesday in a game that ended too late for this edition and will likely host an Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I quarterfinal game Feb. 21.If they succeed there, the Centaurs move on to the ECC semifinals Feb. 23 in Waterford.
But the regular season will not conclude until Monday night when they host E.O. Smith. Also, if the Centaurs happen to prevail in both the ECC quarter and semifinals, they would have an ECC Division I championship game at Mohegan Sun Arena next Tuesday.
Marc Allard
Sports Information Director
The Woodstock Academy

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