The Torrington 2006 Championship Season. Raiders finish regular season with a 16-4 mark. Post season on deck.
TORRINGTON- As the 2006 Torrington boys’ basketball team crossed over into the second half of the campaign with an 8-2 mark, things were going well but not completely to the high standards they had set for themselves.
The Raiders had beaten the teams they thought they should, most times by large margins but their two loses, to Wilby and Crosby, stuck in their craw.
Over the next five games, their battles with the city schools would solidify their resolve that in order to accomplish their ultimate goal, they had to play their best against the best.
Wins over Kennedy (76-51), Seymour (57-52 in OT) and Ansonia (74-46) put their record at 11-2 going into two big games against Holy Cross and Crosby, both on the road.
Against the Crusaders on February 3, 2006, the Raiders held a 45-42 lead entering the final quarter but a 34-20 fourth quarter by the Crusaders gave them a 76-65 win.
Mike Chere (19 points, 8-8 from the FT line) and Jerome Mitchell (18 points, 13 in the final frame) led the way for the Crusaders who evened the season series at a game apiece.
Cross was 19 for 26 from the charity stripe while the visiting Raiders were just 5 of 12.
Mike Fabiaschi led Torrington with 18 points including 10 in the final frame but it wasn’t enough.
Four days later, Torrington traveled south again to take on Crosby and fell by a 65-58 final despite 19 points from Mark Woznicki and 14 from Fabiaschi and Gary Robinson.
The Bulldogs went to the free throw line 17 times in the fourth quarter, converting on 13 of those chances.
For the first time all year, the Raiders had lost two games in a row and sat with an 11-4 mark but this team was not about the regular season, they had bigger goals in mind.
“We knew what our ultimate goal was.” Head coach Tony Turina said. “Those losses didn’t slow us down at all.”
Turina spoke the truth as Torrington would not lose again during the regular season, sweeping past Woodland (87-47), Naugatuck (76-68), Wilby (62-57), Sacred Heart (68-35) and Wolcott 72-41) to end the regular season with a 16-4 record.
The Wilby win was a big win for the team, Fabiaschi had said all year that the wins against the best teams in the league were more important to them than beating the teams they were expected to beat.
"We were talking about how we always win the ones we should." Fabiaschi said. "This was one that finally put us up with the elite teams in the league."
It would also mark the 200th win for Turina, then in his 14th season on the bench for Torrington.
Torrington got 23 points from Fabiaschi, including a 12-17 effort from the free throw line while Robinson poured in 17, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked five shots.
It was a huge win for the Raiders who's faithful carried Robinson off the court on their shoulders.
"The Crazies" were just getting warmed up for an remarkable post season.
NEXT UP: The Post Season.