Pergola goes wild, scores 31 in Raiders 61-34 Class L opener against Naugatuck.
TORRINGTON: Imagine is she had played all four years?
Torrington senior Brie Pergola missed just about all her junior year due to injury, but still managed to join the 1000-point club earlier this season.
After watching her single-handedly take over the Raiders Class L State Tournament game against Naugatuck with a 31-point performance that including a breathtaking 19-point third quarter, one could only wonder what another full season would have meant.
The Raiders needed their senior leader, who is always more comfortable in making others better than by being the headliner, to take over after a terrible first half by the home team against a team they beat easily in the teams two meetings during the regular season.
Back in 2009, these two teams played another first round game right here in Torrington. The Raiders came in with a nearly spotless 19-1 mark (No 5 in Class L) while the Greyhounds were the No 28 seed, thanks to their 9-11 mark.
Torrington had handled the Greyhounds by an average of more than 40 points in their two wins that winter, only to be shocked by the team from down in the Valley by a 58-54 final on a day that the home team didn’t come ready to play while the visitors played their hearts out.
It was a stunning end to a season that held so much promise to that point and as we flash forward to 2017, the first half of this one had all the makings of that bad day some eight years ago.
The Greyhounds came out with fight and desire, outplaying the Raiders early while building an 8-2 lead.
Torrington would find their footing after the rocky start, led by a seven-point effort by senior Alexis Tyrrell that gave them the lead after one at 14-12.
A nine-point quarter by Greyhound forward Hannah Blondo, including a late three-pointer, gave the ‘Hounds a 23-22 lead going into the break.
Head coach Mike Fritch, who knows how to be vocal when he needs to be, didn’t yell or scream during the intermission, he made his team listen.
“I just told them to listen,” Fritch said. “I told them to listen to the other team cheering and yelling in the other locker room while they were sitting there being quiet.”
The Greyhounds were doing just about everything better than the Raiders over the first 16-minutes from rebounding to hustle and especially energy.
Naugatuck came in with a 7-13 mark this year and was ranked No 26.
Avoiding a similar fate would mean one thing.
Pergola needed to take over and boy, did she ever.
An offensive rebound and foul turned into her first two points of the frame but oh, would there be more.
With Torrington trailing 28-26, the senior, who is looking at Assumption and New Haven in Division II to play next fall, went on her own personal 11-0 run with three baskets and five consecutive free throws to put her team up by nine at 37-28.
Alyssa Maraia scored consecutive buckets at that point which were followed by a pair of long three-pointers by Pergola and this one was over.
Pergola had a look about her that said she just wasn’t going to miss, wasn’t going to let this be her final game in a Raiders uniform.
When the dust settled in the frame, the reluctant superstar had scored 19-points and the home team was up 15 at 47-32.
After giving up 23 points in the first half, Torrington held the Greyhounds to just 11 the entire second half.
Pergola was having fun at that point but still deferring to others before adding to her point total as evident on a long, full-court transition pass to Sara Bardwell that threaded the needle in true Brie fashion for a basket.
Tyrrell would finish with 14 while Maraia added nine.
The Raiders will be back at the Connie Donahue Gymnasium on Thursday night to take on Woodstock Academy (#10) who beat Berlin (#23) by a 73-57 final at home on Monday.
If the Raiders are to continue in Class L, they will need Pergola to be who she was on Monday night, one of the best players in the entire state.