Raider boys escape with 63-58 win over feisty Hawks.
TORRINGTON: Breaking routine is never good for high school athletes who get into a rhythm, get into a consistency that helps them prepare for any number of things in their lives.
Take that routine and throw it away, especially when Mother Nature decides to give players an abundance of time off, and the results can sometimes not be what one thought they would be.
On Saturday night, after not being able to practice on Thursday or Friday due to consecutive snow days, the Torrington boys basketball team came out flat, to say the least.
Maybe it was the break in the action, maybe it was the opponent, the Woodland Hawks whom they had beaten by 46 points the first time the teams met earlier this season or maybe it was what they had for lunch or dinner.
Whatever is was, it nearly spelled a devastating loss for a team that is looking to put themselves in a good position for the post season, both in the Naugatuck Valley League Tournament and the states.
If not for a senior, Stephon Dailey, who steadied the ship with a 17-point effort that was exactly what the team needed on a night when their shots were simply not falling, it could have been their worst loss of the year.
“I didn’t like how we looked this morning in the shoot around,” head coach Eric Gamari said. “We just went through the motions and were kind of flat in our legs and not playing with much energy at all.”
The Hawks, who came in with a 1-13 mark, were the aggressors right off the bat, riding the strong inside game of senior Richard Rousseau who scored eight points in the first quarter to help his team work out to an 15-8 lead after eight minutes.
Dailey was the only Raider scoring consistently with 10 in the first half while the visitors built a 22-10 lead with three minutes gone in the second.
It was a Dailey three that helped keep a 9-0 run going for the home team and bring the Hawks back closer at 22-19 but Woodland maintained a five-point lead at 30-25 at the break.
At the half, Gamari challenged his team to pick up the pace and leaned on his seniors, including Dailey.
‘I thought we were just a step behind them in the first half,” Gamari said. “We were not engaged as we should have been. Stephon played really-well tonight and I thought his offense went with him. His decision making has just gotten so much better and he carried us when we needed him to.”
The Raiders would take only their second lead of the game late in the third quarter after a steal and basket by Dailey, a three-pointer from Jordan Henneberry and a layup from Dontae Thomas that put the home team up 38-37.
A terrific no-look pass from Dailey to Hunter Murphy put the Raiders up 40-37 and the senior guard capped a great quarter with a last second block of a three-point attempt by the Hawks.
Sophomore Joel Villanueva had another strong game with 11 points, seven of them in the fourth quarter.
Woodland hung around but could not get the lead under five late and the Raiders had escaped a trip game.
With more poor weather in the forecast this week, Torrington had better get used to the fact that their routines will be far from routine until further notice.
The Raiders improve to 10-6 with four to play. They are at Watertown on Tuesday before coming home for Senior Night on Thursday against Seymour in a game that could determine who takes the sixth post in the upcoming NVL tournament.