Holy Cross uses explosive run to defeat Torrington in NVL Tournament Finals
WATERBURY – The last time the Torrington girls basketball team faced Holy Cross, Sarah Royals hit a shot for the ages, a four-point play at the buzzer to lift the Red Raiders to victory.
In a rematch against the Crusaders in the NVL Tournament Championship Game Wednesday night, a similar storybook ending was not in the cards for Torrington.
Sparked by a 24-1 run over the second and third quarters, Holy Cross defeated Torrington, 65-48, to capture the league tournament title before a standing-room only crowd at Kennedy High School.
Torrington, now 21-2 with both losses coming to the Crusaders, played a consistent and, at times, brilliant offensive game against Woodland in the semifinals. That strong play did not carry into the finals for the Raiders, who held a 16-15 lead with 3:26 left in the second quarter and then scored only one point in the next 9:08 of game time.
Angelica Ariola scored 10 her of 15 points for the Crusaders in that span, including two three-pointers, while Brianna Ferraro netted five of her nine points in the run.
“As (the run) kept going, I really couldn‘t believe it,” Ferraro said. “It was an unbelievable feeling. We just kept hitting shots and getting back and playing strong defense. Everything was working.”
“They took it to us. You have to give them a lot of credit,” noted Torrington head coach Mike Fritch. “They were more aggressive and we were too laid back. We didn’t play our ‘A’ game and if you don’t in the tournament, you’re going to lose.”
In the middle two quarters, Holy Cross owned the paint in this physical game, outrebounding the Raiders, 12-5. Brianna Bradford, who led the Crusaders with 18 points, was a matchup problem Torrington was unable to overcome.
Offensively, the Raiders had several chances down low and couldn’t get anything to fall.
“We missed 10 lay-ups in the first half and that was the game right there,” Fritch said. “If we made just some of those, we would have had been in a lot better position later in the game.”
Trailing by 20 heading into the fourth, Torrington made a run and cut the lead to 13 thanks to a monster quarter from Royals, who netted 15 of her 19 points in the period. Holy Cross, though, was able to break relentless pressure from the Raiders and closed the game out with four lay-ups and four free throws.
Torrington now has a week to prepare for state tournament action. The Raiders are the third seed in Class L with a bye and will face the winner of Darien and Wilton on March 3 in the second round.
“This was not a good end to a fantastic NVL season,” Fritch said. “We played real well in the last two to three weeks and maybe we were bound for a loss. We have a week to regroup from this. It’s certainly not the end of the world.”