The Senior and the Sophomore. Middleton and Pergola lead Raiders to NVL semis.
WATERBURY: The senior and the sophomore. They have become one at times.
Knowing where the other will be on the court at all times and on occasion, being all it takes to dispense of the opponent.
The senior is Paige Middleton, the sophomore is Brie Pergola.
On Saturday in the first round of the Naugatuck Valley League Tournament, the dynamic duo combined to score 39 of their team's 60 points as the Torrington girls basketball team moved on to the semifinals with a convincing 60-27 win over Oxford.
“We work very well together,” Middleton said. “Today everything just clicked.”
Clicked is the word. In the first quarter, the two combined for fifteen of the team’s first 18 points as they jumped out to an 18-2 lead after one. Only a Caitlyn Cornish bucket for the games first points off an offensive rebound and a free throw late in the frame accounted for points from players not named Middleton or Pergola.
They are as different of players, these two, as they are good.
While Middleton (18) has distinguished herself her entire four years as an athlete with a drive and determination that has made her a better basketball player, Pergola (21) is THAT player who comes along only so often.
Middleton is outgoing and willing to be a vocal leader on and off the court, while Pergola lets her game do the talking and is about as shy as they come when it comes to talking about herself.
Pergola has a chance to become a player that ranks up with some of the best to come out of this outstanding Raiders program and that’s saying something with names like Royals and Strawson and Fritch, to name a few, up on the wall in the Connie Donahue Gymnasium.
A stretch in the second quarter of a game decided half way through the opening frame, illustrates just how effective and dangerous these two can be.
On three consecutive trips down the floor, Middleton led a break that ended with Pergola on the other side of a terrific pass that led to a pair of baskets and a pair of free throws.
Pergola is gifted with a similar ability to find her teammates the moment she starts up court, often rifling long passes on target for easy buckets on the other end.
Torrington had handled the Wolverines the only time they met this year at home by a 47-29 final that started much like this one with a big first quarter but fizzled a bit after the fast open.
This time of the year, teams do not have the luxury of being generous by letting teams back into contests and with a strong second quarter, the Raiders built a 20-point lead by the half and never looked back.
On Monday, the semifinals will kick off at Kennedy High School with the home standing Eagles taking on Torrington in the first game, which is slated to start at 5 p.m.
Holy Cross and Crosby will meet in the second game at 7 p.m.
Most are anticipating a Crusaders/Raiders final, but each team needs to be sure to take care of business in two days for that to transpire.
Holy Cross won the only meeting between the two teams in the third game of the season by a 69-66 score in overtime in Torrington.