Raider girls ride defensive effort to a 45-30 win over Wolcott. Improve to 6-5.
TORRINGTON: One thing we know about a team coached by Michael Fritch Sr. is that they're going to play aggressive defense, and when they do, good things are bound to happen.
The Torrington girls stifled the Wolcott Eagles to the tune of a goose egg, yes no points in the first quarter, in their 45-30 win.
In easily their finest display of defensive prowess, the Raiders held the visitors to just five points going into halftime with a 23-5 lead.
It’s been a baby steps kind of year for Fritch and his team, one that is growing a little stronger each time they take the court.
“That was the most intense game we had all year,” Fritch said. “That was a nice start for us.”
Add the fact that their star, Brie Pergola had just six of those first half points after shooting 2-for-11. The rims were not cooperating with the standout who played most of the game, a first since coming back from a calf injury on Monday against Watertown.
Pergola finished with a game-high 12 points and, while her outside shot wasn’t falling, she was most effective when her teammates found her on the inside, posting up.
“We need to understand where she plays best when certain players are in,” Fritch said. “When we got her inside, they had nobody that could stop her. She causes havoc inside just by being able to handle the ball.”
Sidnee Kovall scored 11 points, eight in the first half as she anchored the offense for 16 minutes.
Wolcott was held off the scoreboard until Amanda Japs hit a jumper with 7:02 left in the first half, as the Torrington defense was that intense.
For her part, Pergola does not seem to get rattled when her shot is not falling, she simply works harder on the other important parts of her game.
“I try to shove it off,” Pergola said. “I try and get my players involved so we can get some points up on the board. It gets to me sometimes, but generally I try to shut it out.”
With one of the smoothest shots in the Naugatuck Valley League, when the ball leaves the talented junior's hands, you think it’s a gimmie, but the basketball gods are a fickle bunch. If one thing is not working, the really good players move on to something else.
After taking the big first half lead, the Raiders had trouble living with prosperity in the third quarter as the Eagles opened the frame with an 11-4 run to cut the lead to nine at 35-26.
Coughing up that big a lead would have been devastating for a team still looking to find the proper mix on both ends of the court.
“After that great half,” Fritch said, “we came out and put the brakes on. We let them feel like they were back in the game. We said to them at the end of the game that you have to play with the same intensity.”
Torrington went to the line 25 times, landing only 13 for the night, but in the second half, while holding off the Eagles, connected on 10-of-17 down the stretch.
It was a strange game for Wolcott, which came in 7-4 with a win over Watertown (57-50), the same Indians team that beat the Raiders 58-39 on Monday night.
It was a good win for the home team as they gain confidence knowing that if they bring the defense, as they did in the first half, good things are likely to happen.
Torrington 45, Wolcott 30
Wolcott 0 5 13 12 30
Torrington 11 12 10 14 45
Wolcott (30): Ally Hickey 2-4-8, Raven Coay 0-4-4, Alayna Greene 1-0-2, Jenna Hoban 0-1-1, Amanda Japs 4-2-10, Saranda Alica 2-0-5, :Totals: 9-11-30
Torrington (45): Alexis Tyrrell 1-1-3, Brie Pergola 4-4-12, Sidnee Kovall 5-1-11, Shannon Reardon 1-0-2, Lindsay Mathieu 2-3-7, Caitlin Cornish 3-3-9. Totals: 16-13-45
3-pointers: (W) Alica
Records: Wolcott 7-5, Torrington 6-5