Torrington girls explode late to beat St. Paul
BRISTOL - The Torrington girls basketball team was in desperate need of a boost Friday night at St. Paul.
Barely clinging to a one-point lead after mustering up only six points in the third quarter, head coach Mike Fritch called for a zone defense, a strategy he was waiting for the right moment to implore.
His timing was impeccable.
The Red Raiders fed off the defenisve change, outscoring the Falcons 16-0 over the final 5:30 of the game en route to a 54-37 triumph.
“It was a nice change when we went to the zone,” said Fritch, whose team improved to 12-2 overall, 12-1 in the Naugatuck Valley League. “I didn’t want to use it early, because they don’t have a lot of outside shooters, but what it did was get our defenders out to cover their wing players. We were also able to pressure their guards on the top of the key and made it harder for them to pass the ball into the paint.”
In the game-deciding run, Caycee Williams and Nicole Kozlak connected on consecutive lay-ups to extend the lead to five at 42-37. Mariah Cerruto followed with a three (Torrington’s only three of the game) and Caroline Teti then put the game out of reach by stealing the inbounds pass and hitting a lay-up plus the foul for an 11-point advantage with 3:00 left.
The Red Raiders forced five turnovers in the period were spectacular at the foul line, hitting all nine of their attempts in the fourth and finishing 19-of-20 overall.
“We played great in the fourth quarter,” Fritch said. “St. Paul is a tough team and did a great job getting back in the game. I proud of our kids for not losing focus and finishing this game off.”
The Falcons (7-6) were led by sophomore center Theresa Swanke, who netted 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
Down nine entering the third quarter, Swanke scored eight points in four minutes – all on shots in the paint – to pull St. Paul within three at 32-29. Freshman guard Kelly McMahon also had a strong showing for the Falcons, finishing with 14 points, including two three-pointers.
“Those two are going to be special players,” Fritch said. “It’s going to be hard to figure out how to stop them over the next couple of years.”
Alyssa Otis led Torrington with 15 points, 11 of which came in the second quarter as she helped pace the Red Raiders to a 28-19 halftime lead. Williams added 13 points, while Cerruto scored nine. Teti chipped in with seven points and Kozlak had six.
Torrington’s second showdown with Holy Cross is now only 10 days away. In the meantime, the Red Raiders will have to take care of Derby and Wolcott next week to get to that game with only one NVL loss.
Judging by Friday’s fourth quarter performance, it looks like Torrington will.
TORRINGTON 54, ST. PAUL 37
Torrington: Nicole Kozlak 1 4 6, Caroline Teti 1 5 7, Alyssa Otis 4 7 15, Caycee Williams 5 3 13, Mariah Cerruto 4 0 9, Megan Calabrese 2 0 4. Totals: 17 19-20 54.
St. Paul: Kelly McMahon 5 2 14, Caliegh Lozito 1 3 5, Gabriella Perleche 1 0 2, Mary Joyce 0 0 0, Theresa Swanke 6 4 16. Totals: 6 4 16
Torrington 13 15 6 20 – 54
St. Paul 12 7 12 5 – 37
Records: Torrington 12-2; St. Paul 7-6