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Winning Team
The Woodstock Academy boys’ basketball team celebrates after winning the ECC championship team. Holly Singleton/Woodstock Academy photo.

Centaurs take
ECC North
It’s always a great feeling — winning the final game of the season.
That’s because it usually means a team has won a championship.
Such was the case for the Woodstock Academy boys’ basketball team.
It got a chance to cut down the nets at the Alumni Fieldhouse March 26 after the top-seeded Centaurs posted a 49-36 win over No. 3 Plainfield in the ECC North postseason experience tournament championship game.
For most, like junior forward Ethan Davis, it was the cherry on top of the sundae.
He went into the winter season concerned about how long it would even last as one case of COVID-19 could have spelled the end of the road.
Some teams did get a chance to play an abbreviated fall season.
Football was not one of them as it was limited to practices and a couple of intrasquad scrimmages.
Davis, along with Parker Anderson, will be the only two starters returning for the Centaurs basketball team next season.
The remaining seven are seniors.
Woodstock Academy coach Marty Hart could not have been happier. “I’m thrilled,” Hart said of the championship. “It’s the end of a long season and these guys really held together at the end. Adversity came our way and I’m so proud of their integrity and character that they stuck together and got the job done.”
The Centaurs did have to overcome the loss of Anderson in the first two games of the tournament due to a deep thigh bruise.
He returned, coming off the bench to score nine points, against the Panthers.
Woodstock Academy also had to deal with Davis going to the bench in the third quarter of the championship game with foul trouble.
The Panthers, even with Davis on the floor, caused Woodstock Academy (11-1) some trouble off the glass early.
Plainfield center Ryan Weldy got two early putbacks and the Panthers were, as a whole, solid off the offensive boards. getting 19 to the Centaurs 13 in the game.
Davis was not comfortable with the Panthers early advantage in that category.
“We had to box out, we needed everyone to box out because they were getting a lot of offensive rebounds,” Davis said.
A 3-pointer by Anderson, just seconds after he came off the bench for a first time in the game, put the Centaurs up, 9-5.
But Plainfield (10-3) cut it to a 1-point deficit, 11-10, by the end of the quarter when senior guard Jalen Arriaga – who averaged 17 points a game in the first two meetings with the Centaurs but was held to seven in the championship game – hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Panther senior forward Elijah Brady gave Plainfield a 12-11 lead with a basket just 21 seconds into the second quarter.
It would be Plainfield’s last basket for almost the next seven minutes.
The Centaurs had five different players score in the first quarter, the same kind of distribution occurred in the second.
Talbot, who averaged 27 points in the first two games for the Centaurs against Plainfield this season., had only two points in the first half.
The Centaurs, however, owned a double-digit, 24-14, lead over the Panthers at the half.
Talbot, who added five assists and three steals in the win, came alive at the beginning of the second half, hitting a pair of baskets to open the second half, including his 23rd 3-pointer of the season, to put the Centaurs up by 15.
After Plainfield countered with three points of its own, Anderson hit his third 3-pointer of the game push the lead back to 15 for the Centaurs.
But Davis went to the bench with his third foul and Plainfield took advantage.
It was able to work effectively in the paint and while the Panthers didn’t score a field goal, their work inside and off the boards resulted in eight unanswered free throws.
The flurry from the charity stripe cut the Centaurs lead to seven, 32-25.
“The genie got out of the bottle again and we started doing things that are outside of our zone and played right into their hands,” Hart said. “When (Davis) got those fouls and had to sit for a while, it opened up a lot of rebounds. We need him in there to rebound. He’s a tremendous leader and is really the glue that holds this team together.”
Davis was in double digits for a second straight game for the Centaurs, pulling down 13 caroms in the game to go with his eight points.
The third quarter bleeding was stemmed by Woodstock Academy senior Liam Blanchflower.
With 47 seconds left in the third quarter, he caught a pass deep in the left corner but didn’t settle for a jump shot.
Instead, he went strong down the baseline and with two hands, dunked the basketball.
Plainfield did score the last four points of the third quarter and was within range, down by five, going into the fourth.
But Davis returned and the rebounds and inside play began to disappear for Plainfield.
The Panthers also struggled with the Woodstock Academy 1-3-1 defense where Talbot caused havoc up top.
“Everything says we shouldn’t have used that against (Plainfield) because they have shooters in the corners and everything to hurt us but (Talbot) takes up so much space and (the defense) energizes him so much and energizes our team. We used it, we trust it and like an old friend, it was there for us,” Hart said.
The Centaurs scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter to go up by 13 points and the Panthers could only get as close as nine points the remainder of the way.
The Centaurs advanced to the Friday final with a win over Windham in a semifinal game earlier in the week, also at the Alumni Fieldhouse.
This time, it was the start that caused Hart some stomach upset.
It was not the way The Woodstock Academy coach and his team had envisioned the first quarter would go.
The top-seeded Centaurs came into the game allowing just 43 points per game.
Fifth-seeded Windham scored almost half that, 20, in the opening quarter alone.
But the Centaurs, bothered by having two starters on the bench early with two fouls apiece, countered with some tenacious defense and the determined offensive play of senior Andrew Johnson in the second quarter and were able to change the narrative.
The Centaurs scored a 70-49 win over the Whippets to advance to the title tilt with Plainfield.
Windham, like Plainfield, is a guard-oriented team and the backcourt caused the Centaurs trouble early.
Junior Jayden Villafane scored half of his 14 points in the first quarter and had help from Matt Cruz and Devin Marquez, who combined for 11 more, to give Windham (5-6) a 20-18 lead at the end of the first eight minutes.
The Centaurs limited the Whippets to five points in the second quarter.
Johnson scored 11 of his game-high 20 points in the second quarter and the Centaurs held a 12-point, 37-25, lead at halftime.
Four players finished in double figures for the Centaurs with Talbot getting 18, Davis 12 and Dmitrii Zinchenko 11. Davis added 15 rebounds in the win.
Postseason Awards
The ECC, as was the case in the fall, will not name league all-stars. The only postseason awards for winter athletes were the scholar-athlete and sportsmanship awards.
Parker Anderson and Jacob Hernandez were the boys’ basketball recipients of those honors. Anderson was named the ECC sportsmanship award winner from the Centaurs while Hernandez is the ECC Scholar-Athlete from the team.
Leila MacKinnon and Alexa Pechie were the girls’ basketball recipients. MacKinnon was chosen the ECC Scholar-Athlete for the Centaurs while Pechie was the recipient of the sportsmanship award.
Prep basketball
A host of prep basketball players have already returned home, but those who remain at Woodstock Academy have combined to form one team for the Centaurs and are still on the court.
The Woodstock Academy prep team posted a 55-52 win over Army Prep March 25.
The Centaurs won the game at the free throw line where they hit seven of eight in the final minute of regulation.
Army Prep just missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer which would have sent the game into overtime.
Levi King paced the Centaurs with 15 points while D’Amonte Johnson and Jason Ofcarcik added nine apiece.
Marc Allard
Director of Sports Information
The Woodstock Academy


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