Pergola, Raiders outlast Weaver
TORRINGTON – About a half hour before Monday night’s game against Weaver, Torrington High coach Mike Fritch called it, “just another game.” Two hours later his smile told a different story.
“This is a quality win against a quality team,” said a smiling Fritch after his Raiders disposed of the Beavers, 78-70. “Give the kids credit, they did a lot good things.”
Indeed. Weaver (4-2) was a Class L finalist a year ago, losing to Capital Prep in the championship game. While the Beavers were hit with some graduation losses and are much smaller this year, they still offer up two blue chip players in guards Shaquana Edwards and Dejane James.
And the pair was good on this night combining for 49 points with Edwards accounting for 26 and James 23. But, it wasn’t nearly good enough.
Torrington was better at the beginning and better at the end. And nobody was better in the beginning, end or in the middle than sophomore Brie Pergola. She drained 3-pointers (3), found open teammates and put a 28-point, 10 rebound performance on the board.
Pergola is no secret, Holy Cross coach Frank Lombardo has already called her one of the top five players in the NVL. But this might have been the next step in a career that is going to be wonderful to watch as it unfolds.
“I think Brie came of age today,” said Fritch.
“She is such an amazing player, no one can stay with her,” said Middleton. “She can dribble by people or shoot over them. And she’s not good only on offense, she’s good on defense to.”
Pergola tossed in 11 first half points and Taylor Howe added eight, good enough for a 32-28 Red Raider lead. The taller Raiders had success getting to the hoop while the Beavers bombed from the outside.
Torrington shot 50 percent in the first half (13-26) while Weaver managed to hit just 10-of-34 shots including a numbing 2-of-16 in the second quarter. But neither team was able get much breathing room from the other.
Torrington managed to score the last two baskets of the third quarter to take the biggest lead of the night up to that point, 53-46, going into the final quarter.
A Pergola 15-footer and Shelby Howe offensive rebound basket built the lead to 57-46 with 6:20 to go but then Weaver forced the Raiders to stand up and fall down and the Raiders stood up.
A pair of 3-pointers from James highlighted a 15-5 run, cutting the Torrington lead to 62-61 with 3:10 to go. The Beavers actually missed a chance to go ahead when Edwards came up with a steal only to see her layup roll off the rim.
Then came Torrington’s finest hour or finest three minutes if you will. Pergola drove to the hoop for a basket and then found a cutting Middleton for two more . Caitlyn Cornish then put back a Middleton foul shot miss and Pergola followed by drilling a 15-footer for a run of eight straight points and a 70-61 edge with 1:58 to go.
The lead would hold up down the stretch as the Red Raiders got to the line and made enough to preserve the lead.
“We play good under pressure against most teams,” said Middleton. “In practice the second team plays us really good.”
Fritch was also raving about the play of Brittany Anderson who scored five points in the final 1:40, including a three-point play, and finished with 12 points. Middleton also had 12 points.
Fritch saw areas to improve but nothing could erase the smile off of his face. Another game was hardly just another win. And the the rest of the season is looking better and better.
Torrington 78, Weaver 70
Weaver (4-2): Melicia Mendez 4 1 9, Dejane James 9 2 23, Shaquana Edwards 6 13 26, Nyasia Nieves 4 1 9, Tatianna Duncan 1 1 3, Shamoya Hanson 0 0 0, Totals 24 18 70.
Torrington (4-1): Paige Middleton 4 2 12, Brie Pergola 12 1 28, Brittany Anderson 4 4 12, Mia Barbieri 2 0 4, Taylor Howe 3 0 7, Caitlyn Cornish 3 1 7, Kendra Covington 1 0 2, Shelby Howe 2 2 6, Totals 31 10 78.
Weaver 20 8 18 24—70
Torrington 23 9 21 25—78 3-point goals: W – James 3, Edwards 1; T – Pergola 3, Middleton 2, T. Howe 1.