EAST HAVEN – When Miranda Gladwin sank a free throw early in the second quarter to give East Haven a 17-point lead, few would have expected a young Woodstock Academy team to rally back. The Centaurs had other ideas.
No. 22 Woodstock Academy used a ferocious third quarter rally to get within three points, but the leadership of sixth-seeded East Haven took over, propelling the Yellowjackets to a 49-35 victory in the second round of the Class L state tournament at East Haven High Friday evening.
With the win, East Haven improved to 21-4 on the season and advanced to Tuesday evening’s quarterfinals at No. 3 Bacon Academy, a 67-41 winner over Sheehan.
“We came out flat in the third quarter,” East Haven coach Anthony Russell said after his team advanced the farthest it has in his eight years as coach. “They came out with a lot of energy and they pressed us. We talked about basketball being a game of runs. We knew they were going to make some shots. Our senior leadership combined with some of the younger kids helped get us through it.”
Trailing by 13 points at the half, Woodstock Academy opened the third quarter on a 7-0 run, thanks in part to a basket and 3-pointer by sophomore Mackenzie Cayer. After a pair of buckets by East Haven’s Dana Ross extended the lead back to 10 points, a 7-2 run by the Centaurs, capped by Jamie Woods’ bucket, had the guest trailing only 30-25.
“We missed some shots early,” Woodstock Academy coach Will Fleeton said after his team finished the season 11-12. “We did not look like ourselves until we went on that run. We are a young team with just one senior. We start three sophomores and a freshman. We are an inexperienced team playing on the big stage in our first playoffs.”
When Ari Koivisto got Woodstock Academy within 34-31 in the final minutes of the quarter, East Haven needed someone to take over.
Gladwin took care of that as she drained a 3-pointer with 4:40 remaining to extend East Haven’s lead to 44-33 and put some distance between the two teams.
“I thought Miranda (Gladwin) hitting that three gave us a little distance,” Russell said. “I did not feel comfortable, but I thought if we controlled the possessions and took time off the clock, we would be okay.”
The Yellowjackets did exactly as the coach requested, scoring five of the game’s final seven points, including buckets by Ross and Olivia Coyle, to seal the win.
“This has been a big year for us,” Ross said after finishing with 12 points. “We have gone further than we ever have. That is really pushing us to work hard. They came back, but we knew we had to push through it. We were able to do that.”
With the way East Haven started the contest, in no way did it look like Russell would be worrying about the clock near the end of the fourth quarter.
Behind nine first quarter points from sophomore Kylie Schlottman, who finished with a team-high 19, East Haven jumped out to a 15-4 lead. The Yellowjackets were sound on defense, holding the Centaurs to just a pair of field goals by Woods in the opening quarter.
“I’m proud of this team, beyond proud,” Fleeton said. “This group never played on the big stage. Once we settled in, we looked like ourselves.”
When the Yellowjackets used five points by Coyle and started the second quarter on a 6-0 run, the lead increased to 21-4. Coyle finished the game with 13 points for East Haven.
“It says a lot about our team to win this game,” senior Cailey Korwek said. “We realized we had to get going again. There was no tomorrow.”
Woods led Woodstock Academy with 12 points, while Koivisto finished with 10.
EAST HAVEN 49,
WOODSTOCK ACADEMY 35
(at East Haven)
Woodstock 4 7 20 4 – 35
East Haven 15 9 12 13 – 49
WOODSTOCK ACADEMY (35)
Caroline Eaton 1 1-2 3, Jamie Woods 5 2-5 12, Anna Perry 2 1-4 5, Mackenzie Cayer 2 0-0 5, Ariana Koivisto 3 3-6 10. Totals: 13 7-17 35
EAST HAVEN (49)
Kylie Schlottman 7 4-7 19, Olivia Coyle 6 1-2 13, Cailey Korwek 0 0-0 0, Miranda Gladwin 1 2-3 5, Dana Ross 6 0-0 12. Totals: 20 7-12 49
3-point goals: Woodstock Academy 2 (Cayer 1, Koivisto 1); East Haven 2 (Schlottman 1, Gladwin 1); Records: Woodstock Academy 11-11; East Haven 21-4