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Seniors Honored
The Woodstock Academy honored the four seniors on the girls’ basketball team prior to their Senior Night game with Killingly. From left: Alexa Pechie, Peyton Saracina, Sara Cotillo Soria and Kaitlin Birlin. Photo by Mike Susi/Woodstock Academy.

Senior Night
The four seniors on the Woodstock Academy girls’ basketball team were honored prior to the contest with Killingly, the final regular season girls’ game.
It was a different kind of night. In the past, Senior Night was the time for seniors to be honored with parents and friends in attendance. The pandemic changed that with no spectators allowed at games. But the four seniors took it in stride, knowing their parents and friends were watching the game which was being livestreamed.
The coaching staff served as the escorts for the senior players, stepping in for parents.
The seniors were just grateful to be able to have a Senior Night at all. “It’s been a really great experience that I could be here, especially this season. It’s been a little tough, but I love my teammates and I’m just happy to be here,” said Woodstock Academy senior Kaitlin Birlin.
Alexa Pechie has been a member of the Centaurs for the last three seasons.
While the home games, with the exception of a possible regional tournament game, may be over, the season is not.
The Centaurs will be on the road all of this week, travelling to Killingly, Plainfield and Griswold to finish off the regular season.
Sara Cotillo Soria came to Woodstock Academy from Madrid, Spain, last year and after a year at the JV level was able to play varsity ball this season. While Madrid may be a much larger area, Cotillo Soria said she appreciates how eastern Connecticut celebrates its high school athletes.
Unfortunately, Senior Night didn’t end with a win. Killingly remained undefeated with a 51-40 win over the Centaurs but it was close through the first half.
Birlin, who came in averaging two points a game, had three times that amount by the end of the first quarter as the Centaurs trailed by only four. She finished with a season-high 12 points.
The Centaurs pulled within one in the second quarter, 16-15, on a 3-pointer by Sadie Susi but Killingly rallied to scored nine of the next 11 points and built a 29-21 lead at the half.
The lead grew for Killingly (6-0) in the second half as freshman Hannah Grudzien dominated.
The 6-foot forward scored eight of her 13 points in the third quarter which enabled Killingly to extend its advantage to 15 points, 47-32.
The Centaurs never got closer than the final margin.
Junior Aurissa Boardman also scored 12 for the Centaurs to tie for team-scoring honors; she hit a pair of second half 3-pointers.
The Centaurs went into the final week of the regular season with a 3-3 record as they also fell to Putnam, 48-30, last week.
Woodstock Academy kept it close in the first quarter, trailing by just two, but the Clippers outscored them 8-2 in the second to take an 18-10 halftime lead.
Putnam center Abby St. Martin took over in the second half when she scored 13 of her game-high 23 points. St. Martin scored eight in the fourth quarter when the Clippers outscored Woodstock Academy 18-12.
Boardman scored 10 of her team-high 14 points in the final quarter for the Centaurs.  Saracina and Birlin had four points each.
Boys’ Basketball
Centaurs tied atop ECC North
In the scheme of things in the 2021 high school boys’ basketball season, this week looms pretty large for the Woodstock Academy Centaurs.
The Centaurs went into the week tied with both Killingly and Plainfield atop the ECC North Region. All sported 5-1 records coming into the week.
The Centaurs could have been a game ahead in the win column, but their game with Wheeler scheduled for March 4 was cancelled.
“It’s very nice,” said Woodstock Academy coach Marty Hart after a 42-37 win over Killingly March 2. “The win over Killingly was kind of a two-fer because it ties us up but it also puts us ahead in the head-to-head. To win on their court in a game decided in the last 20 seconds is pretty exciting.”
What’s even better for the Centaurs is that they welcomed both of the teams that they are currently tied with at home this week.
Woodstock Academy hosted Killingly March 8 (the game ended too late for this edition) and play Plainfield at 7 p.m. March 10, at home.
There was plenty of strategy March 2 as the two teams locked into a low-scoring affair.
The game, according to Hart, was very methodical on both sides of the ball with every possession eating a lot of clock on both sides.
The Woodstock Academy coach said that was the game plan as the Centaurs wanted to keep Killingly in front of the defense and win the rebound battle.
Junior Ethan Davis made that happen as he pulled down 12 rebounds while Logan Talbot added seven caroms and Dmitrii Zinchenko had six boards.
The defense was spurred by senior forward Liam Blanchflower (7 points).
Baribeau scored 15 points but, importantly, all of those came in the first three quarters.
Jacob Hernandez and Andrew Johnson also did their part defensively, holding Killingly guard Jason Grzysiewicz to 11 points.
The Centaurs led by one in a low-scoring first half, 21-20, but fell behind 34-30 going into the final quarter.
Woodstock Academy was able to string together a couple of good possessions, getting the shots it wanted in the final quarter and some key offensive boards helped the Centaurs take a 39-37 lead with 38 seconds left.
The Centaurs then executed a bit of a trick play after a made basket by Killingly as Davis passed to Parker Anderson out of bounds and Anderson found Davis streaking down the floor by himself for the open layup and the four-point lead.
Johnson (10 points) made one of two free throws in the final seconds to account for the final. Talbot led the Centaurs with 18 points.
“Logan’s points were spread out (he scored 7 in the first, 2 in the second, 4 in the third and 5 in the fourth quarter) but they were important. I thought he did a nice job of hunting for his shot and not forcing it. He took what they allowed him and made them pay for it,” Hart said.
Prep Basketball
Centaurs Gold split two
It was a 50-50 weekend for the Woodstock Academy Gold prep basketball team.
The Centaurs hung on for a 57-56 win over Canterbury School March 5 but fell short on the road to the Saints in New Milford March 6, 79-73.
It has been the tale for the Centaurs this season.
Play two games on the weekend and then hope that everyone remains healthy so that more games can be played the following weekend.
It doesn’t lend to teams having much in the way of consistency.
“Everyone has the same challenges. Some schools are playing more than others and that’s to their credit. Good job for them. We have had a great plan up to this point. To have six or seven days between each of your games is a challenge because the things you are working on, you have to wait until the next week to see if they work in a game,” said Woodstock Academy prep basketball coach Jacque Rivera.
Canterbury School was a typical opponent for the Centaurs. The Saints, while not as big as the Centaurs inside, were very good shooters from the floor.
As a result, they opened a nine-point lead early in the first half, 23-14, before the Centaurs rallied. An 8-0 run, keyed by four points from Pipe Ajayi (10 points), cut that lead to a point with 6 ½ minutes left in the half.
The Centaurs tied it with 1:16 to play and a couple of free throws by Julian Soumaoro (12 points) and an inside follow for Isha Mohammade put Woodstock Academy ahead, 30-27, at the half.
One tough situation developed for the Centaurs in the first half as point guard Abdias Carcamo went down with an injury.
Woodstock Academy overcame that and were able to build as much as a 15-point lead thanks in part to the effort of Dashon Gittens who scored seven of his team-high 14 in the second half.
The Saints came back, however, and scored 11 of the last 14 points, just falling short.
Gittens scored 33 points March 7 but the Centaurs fell short out in New Milford to fall to 2-3 on the season. Soumaoro added 14 in the loss.
Cheshire Academy prevailed in both games against the Centaurs Blue prep team this past weekend.
The Centaurs had some troubles at the free throw line March 5. They missed 10 from the charity stripe and had those gone in, the outcome would have been different, as the Centaurs fell to the Cats 64-55.
Jayden Beloti scored 12 of his team-high 18 points in the second half for the Centaurs. D’Amonte Johnson was the only other player in double figures with 10.
The Cats’ defense also held up on their home floor March 6 where they prevailed over the Centaurs 63-54.
Beloti again led Woodstock Academy with 19 points and was the only player in double figures. =Levi King added nine in the loss.
Marc Allard
Director of Sports Information
The Woodstock Academy



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