Centaurs split pg 7 11-12-20

It’s the best kind of game to play.
One where no one truly loses.
The Woodstock Academy prep basketball program normally would be into its season by now.
But due to the pandemic and the difficulty in determining what the protocols will be for basketball in the state, the season has been delayed.
That’s why Woodstock Academy prep basketball coach Jacque Rivera decided to put both his teams on the floor against one another for a series of Blue-Gold scrimmages.
“I thought it was good for the kids to compete,” Rivera said. “That’s what they were looking forward to -competition. Something that matters with a score and time and things of that nature. That’s important.”
The Blue team rallied from a double-digit deficit to score a 70-63 win over the Gold in their first meeting a week ago.
Nov. 8, the tables were turned and with more of their number available, the Gold rolled to an 84-55 win.
“I think (this past Sunday) looked so much like a real game,” Rivera said. “Last week, it didn’t look as clean. I was just happy to see more kids out there competing.”
Both figuratively and literally.
The Gold team had just eight players available for the first scrimmage.
And that number went down one when guard Julien Soumaoro rolled his ankle.
The Gold had 10 players Nov. 8 and Soumaoro, one of the vocal leaders of the unit, wasn’t about to accept any excuses.
“Before the game, I spoke to the team and said ‘Look, we’re the Gold team, we should be out here playing harder,’” Soumaoro said.
Soumaoro actions were as strong as his words.
Soumaoro had six 3-pointers and led the Gold with 26 points.
“The kid can flat out shoot it,” Rivera said. “He’s constantly talking on the floor and he’s the heart-and-soul of this team. His energy is infectious. When he is in, our level of play is up.”
Soumaoro was the outside threat, Shemani Fuller provided the inside muscle as he finished with 15 points.
Dashon Gittens added 12 points and Tairi Ketner tossed in 11.
“I think our real strength is our depth, our energy, and our effort and then can we factor in some efficiency? That’s the key. If we can keep our energy up and our effort high and we’re efficient – we have a chance to be really good,” Rivera said.
The Blue team had just one player in double figures as Pipe Ajayi finished with 18 points.
In the first scrimmage, the Gold took the first half lead, 26-17, thanks to the combination of point guard, Omar Cooper, and post player Isha Mohammade.
Cooper hit a pair of 3-pointers and Mohammade added six points, two of those baskets coming off feeds from Cooper, to help the early lead.
Mohammade was also pivotal on the defensive side as he blocked five shots and altered several others in the first half.
The 6-foot, 91/2-inch native of Nigeria gave the Gold squad an early second half, 32-19, advantage when he scored six consecutive points in the first 2 ½ minutes of the first half.
But Jason Ofcarcik stemmed the tide when he hit a 3-pointer for the Blue and was fouled in the process. He completed the four-point play to put the Blue back within nine at 32-23.
The Gold rebuilt its double-digit lead and were up by 11 when Kyle Alcy went to work inside.
The 6-7 forward from Medford, Mass. finished with 15 points.
Eleven of those points came in the final nine minutes.
“Kyle plays hard. He’s worthy of a scholarship. He impacts the game, his energy is infectious,” Rivera said.
In fact, the energy on the Blue bench as a whole was infectious throughout the game.
“They are a prime example of who we are and who we want to be and it was great to see,” Rivera said. “I thought they did a really good job of being happy for someone else. Be selfless. It was unbelievable and good to see.”
Alcy scored five points within 2 ½ minutes to help bring the Blue back within four, 52-48.
His basket with 4:27 left gave the Blue the lead for good.
“We came out with some energy. I know we were down, but we fought through it by working hard, playing and having fun,” Alcy said.
No one else was in double figures for the Blue who finished with 13 players in the scoring column.
D’Amonte Johnson and Gerald Gittens added eight points each to the effort.
While 13 players scored for the Blue, the Gold had only eight players available.
The fatigue was evident in the second half.
“Normally, we’re doing that to other people,” Rivera said. “Both teams are really, really good. I think fatigue did kick in. We have to be in better shape. We’re not good defensively right now. We need to be better. We have some good individual talent.”
Cooper finished with 19 points for the Gold while Mohammade added 18.
Shumpert to Stony Brook
Another member of the Centaurs has determined where he will play at the next level.
Payton Shumpert, a 6-7 guard and wing player for the Centaurs verbally committed to Division I Stony Brook University on Long Island, N.Y., recently.
“That’s a great get,” Rivera said. “Stony Brook got a steal. (Shumpert) is as high a character kid as you will find, academically committed. He’s 6-7, he shoots it, and he’s 200 pounds. His Dad was an All-Big East player at Syracuse so he understands how to play.”
Shumpert was not available for either scrimmage due to a finger injury.
“People will look at Stony Brook and say it’s a mid-major program because it’s in the America East, but if you have ever been to Stony Brook, it has an unbelievable facility on Long Island. They have great coaches, in a great league. (Shumpert) is from (Jamesville) New York, so the family can drive down and watch and that’s important,” Rivera said.
Shumpert became the third Centaur to commit to a college.
Raymond Espinal-Guzman will play for Division I Sacred Heart in Hamden and Jacob Duniver will go to Division II St. Michael’s College in Vermont.
Marc Allard
Director of Sports Information
The Woodstock Academy


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