Tough year coming to a close for Raiders girls basketball.
TORRINGTON: As her half court shot banked it at the buzzer on Monday night inside the Connie Donahue Gymnasium against visiting Woodland in a 36-23 loss, Torrington junior Alyssa Maraia couldn't help but smile.
It's been a rough year for Maraia and the Raiders who will wrap up their season on Wednesday on the road against Watertown with just five wins on the board but the shot that connected from just over the half court mark may have been a sign of what her team needs to improve on before next winter.
The Raiders are 5-14 entering the final game of the year, a long way from a program that posted an .827 winning percentage (182-38) over the past 11 years and will finish under .500 for the first time during the past dozen plus years.
Part of the challenge for head coach Mike Fritch, who plans on returning for the 2018/2019 campaign, this year was finding players who wanted to and who were proficient at doing something pretty important to a positive outcome of any game on the hardwood.
There were simply times that nobody wanted to take a shot, something that will need to change going forward.
Maraia and Alicia Caskey will be the only seniors who saw considerable time this year on the court, meaning the Raiders will need to get help from some of the players who were on the court when that prayer flew towards the basket on Monday night and found pay dirt.
Sophomore Maggie Thompson and a pair of freshman, Julia McCarthy and Kate Mooney, showed promise during the season and seemed to fit well with the upperclassmen.
"We all get along very well," Maraia said. "Me and Alicia (Caskey) are going to be the only seniors next year, I think they got a lot of experience this year and I think next year we are going to come back and I think there might be something there. It may be a little bit of a rocky start, but I think that we are going to be able to pull it together."
Getting better will take some hard work from the returning players who will need to put more time into basketball if they want to improve.
"The bottom line is there are three things that are going to make them better," Fritch said. "Playing time is one. Two is strengthening, something we don't work on in high school anymore and three is the desire to shoot. You cannot pick up a ball in November and expect to be a shooter."
Getting her teammates to work on their game is something Maraia did as she came up through the ranks, tagging along with a pretty good Raider who left her mark on the program.
"I go to the Y a lot during the summer," Maraia said. "I know that when I was an incoming freshman, I'd go with Brie (Pergola) a lot, she would bring me in, so I'd like to do that with them."
Putting in the extra time during the off season can have a lot of positive effects on a team.
"I think it can help," Maraia said. "Not only with your shot but with chemistry as well which you need when you are on the court together."
It may not have been a year that lived up to the standards this program has set over the Fritch years, but the head coach appreciated what he did get from this team.
"It was a lot of fun with these kids," Fritch said. "They gave me what they had, they never moaned, never complained. Never missed a practice. We were just not blessed this year with the best shooters."