Centaur girls p 9 2-13-20

There was a highlighted word on the white board prior to the Woodstock Academy girls’ basketball game with Fitch Feb. 6:
“They have a couple of six-footers out there. Everyone we play, we have to rebound. We have to fight for our lives to rebound,” said Centaurs coach Will Fleeton said.
At first, the Centaurs weren’t doing that.
But they reversed that trend in the second half and that, along with some timely outside shooting, produced a 48-44 win over the Falcons.
Fleeton was a little concerned with how his team started the game.
“I don’t want to say it was the jitters, because we’re at the end of the season, but definitely something was a little off. It almost looked like Fitch was Woodstock as far as the game plan was concerned. They beat us down the floor a couple of times, played tough ‘D’, outscrapped us, beat us to a couple of loose balls,” Fleeton said.
As a result, the Centaurs (5-12) fell behind, 8-0, halfway through the first quarter.
Fortunately for Woodstock Academy, the offense started to produce.
Kayla Gaudreau took a pass from Hallie Saracina for the Centaurs’ first bucket with 3:46 to play in the quarter.
Kaitlin Birlin added a three-point play and Katie Papp, also off an assist from Saracina, added a late basket to make it 10-7 at the end of the first quarter.
Despite getting outrebounded 20-9 in the first half, the Centaurs hung in
A 3-pointer by Gaudreau (11 points) with 1:40 to play in the half was significant as it kept Woodstock Academy close, it trailed only 18-14 at the half.
Something changed in the locker room.
“Mentality, 100 percent,” Papp said. “We weren’t hustling, we weren’t trying our hardest and, at halftime, we came to the realization that we have to go hard.”
Fleeton agreed. “It was totally due to effort and fight. I can’t stretch them at the half,” Fleeton said with a laugh.
The Centaurs turned things around.
They were still behind in rebounds for the game, 29-27, but it meant they owned an 18-9 advantage in the second half.
A lot of that was due to Papp.
The senior pulled down the majority of her 13 rebounds in the second half.
As a result, she finished with a double-double as she also had 16 points.
“I’m more impressed with the rebounds,” Fleeton said with a smile. “The scoring, the ESPN SportsCenter highlight stuff, I love that stuff because it’s exciting. But I really appreciate the finer points of the game. (Papp) getting 13 boards, fighting the big girl, fronting her on the post, and she and Rachel Lambert did a great job getting in front of their six-foot players and getting backside help. I was most excited about those things. I’m, honestly, shocked she got that many points.”
Just like Fitch (11-6) had done in the first half, it was the Centaurs who opened the second with an eight-point run to take a 22-18 lead.
Woodstock Academy doubled that lead following a Papp basket with 1:16 to play in the third quarter, but a late run by the Falcons made it a 33-31 game going into the final quarter.
Gaudreau (two) and Alexa Pechie combined for three 3-pointers to spark the 19-point third quarter for the Centaurs.
“They are both volume shooters so I think they have to take a lot to get into the rhythm. If they’re taking a lot and making a lot, it’s a long day for the opposing team. If they’re taking a lot and missing a lot, then it’s a long day for me,” Fleeton said.
Fitch tied the game up early in the fourth quarter and went ahead, 38-37, on a 3-pointer by Nyseanah Ishmael (23 points) with 5:42 left.
Birlin came up big at the right time.
The junior drove to the basket twice in 46 seconds and made both her layups to put Woodstock Academy up, 41-38.
The Centaurs could have built a much larger lead but misfired on five consecutive free throws.
Birlin and Papp finally made one each and a Saracina basket off a Pechie assist with 1:54 slammed the door on the Falcons as it put Woodstock Academy up, 45-37.
“This was huge,” Papp said of the win. “We played them in the second game of the season and lost so this was a big revenge game for us. We did pretty good.”
The Centaurs opened the week with a 66-31 loss to one of the best teams in the state, Norwich Free Academy.
The loss dropped Woodstock Academy to 0-5 in Division I of the ECC.
“NFA is tough,” Fleeton said. “They are No. 1 in (Class) LL for a reason. They have a quality, deep team and have all the tools and pieces. We’re trying to be who we are and I don’t think we played too bad there. We were just dealing with an exceptional team that plays a style that fits their athleticism.”
Pechie finished with 10 points and Papp added eight for the Centaurs.
Unfortunately for Woodstock Academy, it needs to win its three remaining games to qualify for the Class LL state tournament and, among those games, is a home game against NFA. The other two matchups are against local rival, Killingly.
Fleeton said, sometimes, seasons are not defined by records however.
“If we continue to play this hard, show the spirit they showed in the second half (against Fitch), it really hasn’t been that tough a season. They’re doing what I’m asking. They’re playing hard. We’re on the back half of the season and they’re playing like its Game 1. That’s a great season,” Fleeton said.
Marc Allard
Director of Sports Information
The Woodstock Academy


RocketTheme Joomla Templates