Pergola and Kovall combine for 36 in Raiders 56-47 win over Woodland. Now 7-1.
TORRINGTON: If you had asked Torrington girls’ basketball head coach Mike Fritch at the start of the 2016/2017 campaign if he imagined his team sporting a 7-1 record on January 13, he may have told you that you were crazy.
After all, this was a team without a ton of experienced, skilled basketball players, sans one in senior Brie Pergola, so expectations were relatively low as the season began.
Along the way though, this team has learned to play through the ups and downs of a game and find themselves a bad fourth quarter away from being perfect after eight games, thanks to a 56-47 win over visiting Woodland on Friday night.
Brie Pergola continued to contribute on the offensive side of the ball the way she did during her sophomore year when she averaged over 20-points per game.
On Friday, Pergola was right at 20 but got a huge boost from a player who has improved greatly this year, especially under the basket on both ends of the court.
Sidnee Kovall scored 16 points, eight of them in the fourth quarter when the Hawks mounted a comeback and put Pergola on the bench with four fouls with 5:49 still left to play.
When Pergola went out after picking up fouls number three and four in a thirty second stretch, the home team was up 45-33.
Woodland, knowing the Raiders best ball handler was on the bench, brought a full court press that caused chaos and allowed them to climb to within six at 52-46 with a little more than two minutes to play.
Kovall scored the last three baskets for her team and allowed her team to keep just enough distance between the Hawks and a disappointing loss.
Pergola and Kovall are developing a unique chemistry this year.
“We have really good eye contact,” Pergola said. “I’ll just give her a look and she knows the pass is coming.”
Part of the challenge for the Raiders during most of the Pergola years has been having players who could anticipate and handle the passes that come from a player with the court vision that Pergola possess.
This year, if players do their jobs and cut to get open, the talented senior has been able to set them up for easy buckets and they have converted.
Torrington forced 22 Hawks turnovers, 15 in the first half with Pergola leading the way with seven steals.
The Raiders won the battle of the boards by an 18-16 margin with Pergola grabbing seven.
Their habit of going up big (15 early in the third quarter) and then giving most of it back is a habit that their head coach would like to see end.
“We know how to execute,” Fritch said. “And then we don’t. The wrong person takes the ball out or the best foul shooters are not getting the ball down the stretch.”
There was a chance, after their star player was forced to the bench that the home team could have given away the entire lead but to their credit, they didn’t which pleased their head coach.
“This team has learned to fight back,” Fritch said. “That’s what I’m proud of.”
7-1 feels a whole lot better than this time last year when they Raiders stood at 4-4 after eight on their way to a disappointing 10-10 mark.
Sophomore Alyssa Maraia had 10 points, nine in the opening quarter on three, three pointers.
Torrington takes to the road next week with games on Wednesday at Watertown and Friday at Sacred Heart.
Torrington 56, Woodland 47
Woodland 13 6 12 16 47
Torrington 17 15 7 17 56
Woodland (47): Meg Sirowich 0-0-0, Maddie Hupprich 5-7-17, Eliza Smith 7-0-14, Hana Bojka 0-0-0, Morina Bojka 3-5-11, Jenna Pannone 0-0-0, Cam Johnson 0-0-0, Jill Barbarito 2-0-5: Totals: 17-12-47
Torrington (56): Alexis Tyrrell 0-2-2, Colleen Kilgore 0-0-0, Brie Pergola 7-6-20, Sidnee Kovall 8-0-16, Shannon Reardon 3-0-6, Sara Bardwell 1-0-2, Alyssa Maraia 3-1-10 Kayla Williams 0-0-0: Totals: 22-9-56
3-pointers: (W) Barbarito, (T) Maraia 3
Records: Woodland 4-4, Torrington 7-1