The Woodstock Academy girls’ basketball team has prided itself this season on its inside play.
Jan. 27, the Longmeadow (Mass.) Lancers turned the tables.
“We got killed on the boards,” said Centaurs coach Will Fleeton. “Usually, we’re pretty strong there and I think they won that battle (Saturday). I feel like they were the stronger rebounding team which limited our second chances and our fast breaks and gave them second chances – forced us to defend a little more.”
The Lancers did win the battle, by two rebounds, but the Centaurs won the war in overtime, 51-45.
“It was definitely a battle,” Heather Converse said. “Both teams were really physical down there.”
The free throw line almost scuttled the Centaurs hopes in regulation.
The Academy made only 5-of-11 from the line in the fourth quarter.
In total, the Centaurs were an uncharacteristic 17-for-38 from the charity stripe including only 6-of-14 in overtime.
The game was back-and-forth throughout.
The biggest lead belonged to Longmeadow when it forged ahead, 29-23, midway through the third quarter.
But the Centaurs came back to take the lead with 5:50 to play on a layup by Kalianna Dingui (15 points), 34-33.
Longmeadow rallied to tie, but Jamie Woods (11 points, 8 rebounds) took a pass from Converse with 3:03 left and scored on another layup to put the Centaurs up, 40-38.
Madison Brennan added a free throw with 1:54 left to make it a three-point advantage.
The Academy (11-4) needed all of that as Cameron Riordan sank a no-look 3-pointer with 1:24 left that sent the game into overtime after Longmeadow missed a pair of free throws and the Centaurs missed three.
Converse helped the Centaurs take over in the fourth quarter and overtime.
“Huge,” Fleeton said of Converse’s contribution. “I think she started to make her way in the paint and rebound the ball in the fourth. I think that was the key, something we were missing earlier and she was solid and able to do that at the end.”
Woods put the Centaurs ahead to stay with a basket just 26 seconds into the extra period.
Converse, who led the team with 16 points and 11 rebounds, added a free throw but Longmeadow cut the deficit to one with a pair from the charity stripe by Lyssa Tyler.
Free throws by Dingui and Converse and a basket by Dingui gave the Centaurs a seven-point lead with 46 seconds to play.
“In the past, like freshman year, we had really close games and we didn’t always win them. We’re older, we have the confidence and it was nice to get this win,” Converse said.
Earlier in the week, the Ledyard Colonels tried to do what many will likely attempt.
Take away leading Centaurs leading scorer, Woods.
The Colonels held Woods to nine points, but that opened the door for Converse who dropped 17 points and led Woodstock to a 42-30 win over Ledyard Jan. 23.
“We try to play inside first and Ledyard was playing a 2-3 matchup (zone) that gave us a little trouble. We just flipped the coin from Jamie Woods to Heather Converse so Heather got a few more touches and she scored a little more and Jamie had a few more assists and rebounded more. They just reversed roles,” said Fleeton.
The Centaurs built a 19-12 lead at the half and extended that to 12 points by the end of the third which is where it remained.
“Outstanding,” Fleeton said of the 11-4 record thus far. “I felt like we let a couple slip through the cracks earlier, but they were (losses) to quality teams so we accept those. But to win 10 at this point and be in control of our own destiny is all we could ask for.”
The Centaurs share the top spot in Eastern Connecticut Conference Division II with Bacon Academy at 4-1. Stonington is a half-game back at 4-2.
Marc Allard
Sports Information Director


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