Raiders win their home opener over Seymour, 72-65 despite 48 from Dion Perkins..
TORRINGTON: It’s almost a New Year and the Torrington boys’ 2019/2020 basketball team is certainly a new team, working towards finding their own identity after a stellar season a year ago that saw them make a run all the way to the Division III semi-finals.
On this Eve of the New Year, fans got an afternoon look at a Raiders team that graduated all five starters a year ago and while the second unit saw considerable time last season, this is now their court, their team.
Against a Seymour team looking to crack into the win column and who bring perhaps one of the most prolific scorers they may see in the Naugatuck Valley League this year in Dion Perkins (48 points), the home team hung on for a 72-65 win behind 18 points from Joe White.
The running, fast paced game is still the way for this Eric Gamari led unit but how they blend and mix and figure things out is still in early season mode.
“We’re in the right spots,” Gamari said, “But we’re just not seeing the little things When we pay attention and focus, we are good when we’re not, things don’t work.”
In their first two games, losses to Holy Cross (70-66) and Farmington (83-57), Torrington had their moments but could not sustain.
“Against Holy Cross we were up 45-40 with three minutes left in the third,” Gamari said, “Against Farmington we were down three with three minutes to go in the third before the flood gates opened.”
In their home opener, moved from Monday night to today because of the increment weather, the Raiders fell behind early to Perkins and the Wildcats 12-6 with the junior forward accounting for 10 of those 12.
Did I mention, he’s just a junior?
The home team started to deny Perkins the ball and started working on their own offense, led by a pair of three pointers from White and another from Nick Balducci to take a lead they would never relinquish.
After his initial barrage, Perkins had a quiet second quarter with five points but the rest of the visitors managed just as Torrington took the margin out to 15 at the half. Seymour went scoreless the final 1:44 of the half.
It was clear the Wildcats game plan on the offensive end was focused on Perkins who scored 14 in the third quarter and 19 in the final frame.
After a Brian Ballesteros basket put the home team in what seemed to be a gravy position at 53-36, a 6-0 run by the visitors made it an 11-point lead at 53-42 starting the fourth.
Justin Mattiello hit a big three point shot as the Wildcats went to a ball trap on defense that kept the momentum from swinging in the wrong direction but Perkins would simply not let his team be put away.
The Torrington lead would go under double digits at 65-57 after a long trey by Perkins, his next bucket made it a 65-60 game with just under two minutes to play.
Off a press break though, White hit his biggest three-pointer of the game and a march to the free throw line finish was at hand.
Neither team saw much success at the charity stripe with the home team shooting 10 of 19 while Seymour connected on just 11-23.
Mohamed Traore (12), TJ Calabrese (11) and Ivan Aybar (10) gave the Raiders four players in double digits, a good sign.
Torrington 72, Seymour 65
Seymour 18 7 17 23 65
Torrington 25 15 13 19 72
Seymour (65): Dion Perkins 17-9-48, Kyle Harmeling 2-0-4, PJ Miller 0-1-1, Matt Oczowski 1-0-3, Dhruv Kapadia 1-1-3, Keven Harmeling 2-0-4, Joe Grlando 1-0-2; Totals: 24-11-65
Torrington (72): Nick Balducci 3-0-8, Justin Mattiello 1-4-7, Ivan Aybar 4-2-10, Joe White 7-1-18, TJ Calabrese 4-2-11, Matt Rylander1-0-3, Mohamed Traore 6-0-12, Jacob Groebl 0-1-1, Brian Ballesteros 1-0-2: Totals: 27-10-72
3-pointers: (S) Perkins 5, Oczowski. (T) Balducci 2, Mattiello, White 3
Records: Seymour 0-3, Torrington 1-2.