Woodstock Academy's Strong Start

        Woodstock Academy has not been known for their strong basketball team. This year, however, players like Ian Converse and Chris Lowry are trying to bring about change to the culture of Woodstock Academy basketball. They seem to be doing just that as it is obvious to those that have followed the team throughout the years, that there is a new demeanor to the players this year, and the results have been phenomenal. Currently the Woodstock Academy Centaurs are 7-0 for the first time since anyone that I have talked to can remember. They have also received votes in the New Haven Register boys basketball top 10 poll [1]. Maxpreps has them listed as number 22 in the state [2]. Coach Greg Smith has always been a big proponent of defense and this year's team exemplifies that. The most points given up to a team this season was 59 to Ellington; the first game of the season without Ian Converse, one of the teams key players. Offensively this team can put up points scoring 85 against Fitch and 75 against Lyman. What's changed this year is how the team scores points. In the past Woodstock Academy has been known for shooting lots of 3's. This year the team has looked to get the ball inside mainly due to the fact that leading scorer, Ian Converse, gets most of his points in the paint or driving to the basket. This team still has the players to do damage from behind the arc such as Tristan Welch, as well as Trent Peters who comes off the bench. Point Guard Chris Lowry has done a great job of finding open teammates for easy buckets near the hoop. What makes Chris one of the best point guards in the ECC is his deadly passing, ability to run the offense, but most importantly the fact that he turns the ball over rarely. Opposing teams have a tough time scoring because there are not many opportunities for easy fast break points off of turnovers.
        Adversity has recently hit this Woodstock Academy team in the game against Lyman. After an incredible spin move for a lay up starter Will Bourgeois stayed on the ground clearly in pain. After walking off the court and being looked at by the trainer he was back on the court after just a few minutes. However, after making a simple pass Will found himself on the ground again in pain. Because of his toughness, everyone in the crowd, including myself, knew this had a good chance of being something serious. Will was helped off by the trainer and did not return to the game. The team has since come to find out that Will has suffered a probable ACL and MCL tear [3]. Will brings an added element of intensity that no one else on the team has. Other players will need to step up in order to fill the void that is left by Wills injury. Sully Gardner got the start in place of Will and played very well, scoring 11 points and making an impact with his rebounds and blocks. If Sully continues to play that well it will make the loss of Will a little less painful for the Centaurs. Junior guard Trent Peters and senior forward Jake Almquist will also likely find themselves with more playing time. Trent is undersized, but has probably the nicest shot of anyone on the team and is an incredibly smart player who has no problem running the offense and directing others. Jake is able to bring athleticism and rebounding to the court for the Centaurs. It will be interesting to see how the coaching staff handles the rotation of an already short bench.
        An area of improvement for Woodstock needs to be their free-throw shooting. According to MaxPreps they are shooting 55% on the season [4]. Free-throw shooting nearly cost Woodstock the game against Suffield. They shot only 30% (3-10) from the line, but their defense won the game for them as they gave up only 13 points in the entire second half and only 4 in the fourth quarter. While the free-throw shooting needs to be improved the season is looking promising for the Woodstock Academy Centaurs. If the team can gel together and play up to their potential there is no telling how far this team can go on the way to Mohegan Sun, where the state finals will be played.

[1] http://www.nhregister.com/articles/2013/01/05/sports/high_school/doc50e227a616a28911558499.txt

[2] http://www.maxpreps.com/high-schools/woodstock-academy-centaurs-(woodstock,ct)/basketball/home.htm

[3] MRI test results have not confirmed as of yet, but this is the report supposedly given by a respected doctor.

[4] http://www.maxpreps.com/high-schools/woodstock-academy-centaurs-(woodstock,ct)/basketball/stats.htm

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