Thomas and Villanueva spark Raiders in the fourth quarter of their win over St Paul, 75-62.
TORRINGTON: The last time the Raiders faced the St Paul Falcons, they came out on top by a final of 62-40 so going into round team, this time at home, one might have thought it might have been somewhat of a laugher.
Those folks anticipating chuckling would have been disappointed because even in that 22-point win nearly a month ago, the score was deceiving with the lead just five (24-19) at the break.
Torrington used a dominating second half in which they outscored the home team by a 38-21 margin in the second half.
Flash forward to last night and even though the final score showed the Raiders up double-digits (75-62), this rematch was much tougher and closer than that.
Torrington needed a big fourth quarter on Thursday night, one that saw them put the clamps on the Falcons leading scorer, Noah Waters (game high 29) who had 26 entering the final frame which showed the teams deadlocked at 54.
Getting Waters under control meant staying disciplined on defense, something head coach Eric Gamari stressed before the final eight minutes.
“I told them they just needed to stay home in our zone defense,” Gamari said. “We were chasing at times and leaving Waters open. Once we solved that and stayer aggressive on defense, we made things happen.”
In that strong final frame, Joel Villanueva (20 points), Dontae Thomas (team high 23 points) and Tyreek Davis (17 points) started the home team on a 9-2 run that put them up 63-56 with 5:30 to go.
Waters would keep his team close with his final three-ball to close the lead to four at 63-59 but Villanueva answered with a long ball of his own off a nice pass from Kevin Dixon.
The visitors wouldn’t score again after the 5:16 mark until a free throw by Quentin Conner but by that time, the lead was in double-digits and the win secured.
While he may have scored just two points on the night, senior CJ Root came up with two huge steals down the stretch to thwart and chance the Falcons had of trying to get back in the game via the three-pointer, of which they made a dozen.
The Raiders are in Watertown tonight to face the Indians, a team struggling with a 1-12 mark before going back on the road next Tuesday to battle Ansonia (6-6).
Those two games lead up to an important contest against Wolcott (11-4) who are just ahead of Torrington (10-4) and have beaten the Raiders already this year in a game the Raiders let get away after leading big early in Wolcott.
They will be looking to turn the tables at home this time around.
Torrington 75, St Paul 62
St Paul 19 14 21 10 62
Torrington 16 16 22 21 75
St Paul (62): Jack Noli 1-1-5, Noah Waters 11-1-29, Donovan Symes 3-0-6, Tyler Garry 2-0-6, AJ Brooks 1-0-2, Will Barton 1-0-3, Quentin Conner 1-1-3, Joseph Leone 2-0-6, Christian Peterson 1-0-2, Totals: 23-2-62
Torrington (75): Dontae Thomas 7-7-23, Nick Balducci 2-2-7, Tyreek Davis 7-3-17, Joel Villanueva 6-5-20, CJ Root 1-0-2, Zach McLaughlin 1-0-2, Kevin Dixon 2-0-4, Totals: 26-17-75
3-pointers: St Paul (12) Noli, Waters 6, Garry 2, Barton, Leone 2. Torrington (6) Thomas 2, Balducci, Villanueva 3
Records: St Paul 7-8, Torrington 10-4.