The 2006 Torrington Boys Basketball Team. The NVL'S. Prepping to be great.
TORRINGTON- As they made their way into the second season, the postseason or the time that mattered, the Torrington boys basketball team was looking to prime themselves for both the Naugatuck Valley League Tournament and more importantly, the State Tournament.
Remember, this entire season had been predicated on unfinished business from a loss the year before to Wethersfield that weighed heavily on all the returning players and head coach Tony Turina the most.
Their 16-4 regular season had been good, they wanted the next couple of parts to be great.
First up in the NVL tourney was a Sacred Heart team that the Raiders had just beaten two games earlier by a 68-35 final.
The second time around though, the Hearts were ready and gave Torrington a real battle that wasn’t decided until the fourth quarter when the Raiders outscored their opponent by a 16-5 margin and a 45-36 win to move on.
“They played with tremendous energy that night,” Turina remembered. “They played the way they wanted to and we didn’t”
Survive and move on. Every team’s motto in the postseason.
Mike Fabiaschi was clutch down the stretch for his team, as he had been the entire regular season and it was his four free throws late in the final quarter that was the difference.
Gary Robinson would lead the team in scoring with 14 and Torrington survived a 22-point effort from Crusader Bryant Corcoran to move on.
In their second round matchup with rival Holy Cross, Torrington had to overcome an opponent and a bug that had Robinson out sick and several other starters a bit under the weather.
It was the first time all year that the bench of the Raiders came into focus in a big way and as a sign of things to come down the road, the group was up to the task.
Junior Ty Kittle, sophomore Andre French and freshman Jordan Williams made their mark after the Raiders fell behind by a 16-9 score late in the first quarter.
Missing their 6’6” big man, it was up to Kittle and Williams to pick up the slack on the boards while French was needed on the outside.
Kittle had a monster game, grabbing 16 rebounds to go along with eight points while Williams added seven boards and five points. French scored his eight points in the second quarter when the Raiders outscored the Crusaders by a 19-10 margin to go into the half up 33-26.
Allowing just eight points in the next two quarters was just what the head coach ordered and Torrington moved on to the NVL finals off the strength of a 47-34 win.
On deck were the Crosby Bulldogs, the undefeated (20-0, 27-0) champions of the NVL regular season.
The final was everything NVL fans could have asked for.
While Torrington finished in third place behind Holy Cross and Crosby, they had beaten the Crusaders both times they faced them so these were the two best teams in the league in 2006.
In a game that showcased the best the NVL had to offer the upcoming state tournament, this one had a little of everything.
Crosby was a top five team in the state at the time.
Three Bulldog players accounted for all but four of their points.
Torrington put four players in double figures, led by 18 from Fabiaschi who drained all of his offense from behind the arc.
Damian Saunders led all scorers with 30 points, including seven from the free throw line in overtime, yes overtime.
This one went back and forth throughout like a heavyweight fight with neither fighter wanting to give an inch.
Crosby had come in the favorite but the Raiders pushed them as hard as they could before falling, 68-66 in overtime.
The Raiders made 24 baskets, 12 of them from three point land.
Torrington showed they belonged on the court with a top five team and were primed for what was to come over the next five games.
Next up: The State Tournament.