The Woodstock Academy Gold Prep basketball team saw its 15-game win streak come to an end last week.
Then, it found itself on a two-game losing streak.
But the Centaurs got back on track Feb. 2, scoring a 70-67 win over Arizona Compass Prep at the National Prep School Invitational at Rhode Island College.
Jordan Mitchell and Quran McPherson combined to make it so. Mitchell got a rebound with five seconds left and the score tied.
The 6-foot, 8-inch post ran up the right side of the court and tried to cut left, but started to fall down. He happened to spot Quran McPherson.
“It was an unbelievable pass,” said Woodstock Academy Gold Prep basketball coach Jacque Rivera.
McPherson took the pass, let it fly, and watched it sink through the twine as the buzzer sounded.
“Credit Quran with the big shot, he’s a big-time player, but the presence of mind of Jordan Mitchell to be able to make that pass under duress was just as impressive,” Rivera said.
The win came against a team that Feb. 1 had handed Putnam Science Academy its second loss of the season.
“It’s huge,” Rivera said of breaking the brief losing streak. “It’s not just the two losses, it was how we lost.”
The Centaurs (22-3) had opportunities against Power 5 Conference foe, Springfield Commonwealth Academy Blue, early last week, but fell short, 82-77.
That was followed by another setback.
The Centaurs lost to DME Academy Jan. 31, 81-78, in their first game at the National Prep School Invitational.
Woodstock Academy came back from a double-digit deficit against the Florida-based team and was tied at 78 going into the final seconds. A missed shot by DME resulted in an offensive rebound and a basket.
The Centaurs should have gotten the ball back with about three seconds to play.
But an official thought the original shot had not hit the rim and called a shot clock violation, nullifying the basket.
When he was informed by other officials that the ball had hit the rim, the officials decided to give the ball back to DME Academy.
Keegan Murray, who finished with 35 points, hit his sixth 3-pointer of the second half as regulation time expired to give DME the win.
Joe Moon led the Centaurs with 16 points, Ronnie DeGray added 12 and Dyondre Dominguez finished with 11.
Centaurs Blue Prep Battles 'The Wall'
The wall is staring the Woodstock Academy and many others who play prep basketball in the face.
It’s the time of year when players, most of them having graduated high school the year before, learn that unlike the previous level where 25 or 26 games constitute the entire season, there is still a lot of season left. We just had this conversation and harped on not hitting that wall. A year ago, the season was over unless you were playing in a state championship game. Your body is used to saying the season is over with by now and we still have a whole lot of basketball to play, a month and a half,” said Centaurs Blue head coach Denzel Washington.
For that reason, Washington was happy to see his team perform the way it did late last week.
The Centaurs rolled past a team who had beaten them earlier this season, Cheshire Academy, 82-54 Feb. 1 and the day before that, handed Hyde School of Maine an 85-81 defeat.
Center Paul Hosey was the man of the hour for the Centaurs against Cheshire.
He scored 32 of the Blue team’s 49 first-half points to give the Centaurs an insurmountable 24-point advantage.
“The 38 points wasn’t expected but with the effort he gave (Saturday), he was more than deserving,” Washington said of Hosey. “I have to attribute it to the team as well. They recognized the hot hand (Saturday) and made an effort to continue to feed him. It was beautiful to see.”
Nahshon Battle was a key part of that as he contributed a team-high 10 assists.
“It was great to play Cheshire again. Compared to last time, we were shorthanded, but we still found a way to get the win. Our motto is always ‘Let’s go 1-0 today.’ I’m really proud of our effort,” the Blue prep coach added.
Vondre Chase added 17 in the win.
The victory over Cheshire was easier than the day before when the Wolfpack from Hyde tested the Centaurs.
“It was tough and hard fought. We expected that. They gave (the Centaurs) Gold (prep basketball team) a pretty tough game the other day and I expected nothing less,” said Centaurs forward Walter DeFritas.
The problem for the Wolfpack, a NEPSAC Class C team, is that it doesn’t have a lot of depth. Hyde-Maine brings only eight players.
The Centaurs Blue team wasn’t much better Jan. 31. Illness and injury have depleted the Centaurs ranks to just nine players.
“It’s tough but it’s the ‘next man up’ attitude. It’s always take care of one another and I think we did an amazing job of that (Friday),” Washington said.
Woodstock Academy opened a 14-point lead in the first half when DeFritas hit a basket to make it, 41-27.
But Hyde crept back in and trailed by only 11, 42-31, at the half.
The Centaurs were able to get it back into double digits early in the second half.
White helped put Hyde in the lead, 61-60, with 7:36 to play and they still held it with 4:16 left when White completed a three-point play.
Amani Gottlieb put the Centaurs up for good with a bucket with 3:44 to play. It was the start of a 9-1 Woodstock Academy run that put the game out of reach.
Battle led the Centaurs with 18 points while DeFritas added 16.
The wins raised the Centaurs record to 16-11.
Woodstock Academy had a 50-50 start to the week.
It opened with an 89-73 win over Springfield Commonwealth Academy.
Hosey led the way for the Centaurs with 15 points while both Malikai Delgado and Gottlieb  added 13.
Woodstock Academy then had to travel Jan. 29 to Bridgeport Prep. Their opponents had just given the Putnam Science Academy prep team a run for its money and the Centaurs found out why. They fell to Bridgeport Prep, 100-92.
Marc Allard
Director of Sports Information
The Woodstock Academy


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