Raiders girls hoops second season gets underway Tuesday night at home.
TORRINGTON: It’s second season time for a Torrington girls basketball team that from all indications, exceeded expectations this season in finishing with a 15-5 record, losing twice each to Holy Cross and Sacred Heart and once in an out of conference matchup against Avon.
On Tuesday night, the No. 10 ranked Raiders host # 23 Sheehan High School at 7 p.m. in the Connie Donahue Gymnasium.
The Titans play in the Southern Connecticut Conference with Amity Regional (22-3), Lyman Hall (No. 7 at 17-4) and Cheshire (11-10). Lyman Hall could be the Raiders next opponent if they beat No. 23 Guilford on Tuesday night and Torrington takes care of their home turf.
Going into the season, head coach Mike Fritch knew he was missing one thing he couldn’t teach, no matter how far he dug into his deep bag of tricks.
You can’t teach height and the Raiders don’t have a ton of it, averaging about 5’7’ across the board. Junior Mia Barbieri stands 5’ 10 and has improved as the season went on but the Raiders have to rely on their quickness and a Fritch staple; defense.
“When we put it all together we have been very good this year.” Fritch said, “We have scared a few teams this year as well and we are playing well at the right time.”
Three players have led Torrington throughout the year, two were expected, one a pleasant surprise.
Senior Caroline Teti, who has been an important part of this team since she broke on the scene as a freshman, leads the team in scoring followed by junior Paige Middleton who has also played a big role in the Raiders success over the last two years.
It’s a freshman, 5’8” Brie Pergola who has broken onto the scene in a big way this season, earning a spot on the All-Copper Division team in her first year.
“She has the fastest release of any player I have had in a lot of years.” Fritch said. “She shoots like a guy. The ball gets to her and she’s ready to let it go. She just oozes talent.”
The Crusaders and Hearts gave Torrington fits in their weak spot, size.
Mikyla Jacobs (5’10”) was the top senior in the Naugatuck Valley League this season and won the scoring title as well while Kiera O’Donnell (5’11”) was a tough out for the Crusaders.
Their other loss was to a touch NCCC opponent in Avon, the Falcons are ranked No. 5 in Class L but Torrington played well before falling 54-43 on February 12.
You can forgive the Raiders for being height challenged but giving away points at the charity stripe is something else.
“We are shooting 53% as a team from the line.” Fritch said. “It is our other big Achilles heel.”
Tournament games often come down to the wire and getting the points with nobody in your face are critical at this point so the Raiders are going to have to try and get better in a hurry.
Class L is loaded once again this year with a newcomer at the top. Capital Prep was moved out of Class S a year ago after beating Thomaston in the finals a year ago and ran the table at 20-0.
The sit in the upper bracket of Class L away from the Raiders but No. 2 Farmington (18-2) and No. 3 Weaver (18-2) are in the lower half with Torrington.
Ledyard, the team that knocked Torrington out last year with a huge roster that still sports eight players 5’10” or above with a 6’3” and 6’4” frontcourt.
First things first though for the Raiders. A win Tuesday night would pit them against either Guilford or Lyman Hall.
Tuesday will mark Torrington’s last home game of 2013/2014, they hope to make it a good one.