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Big defensive effort leads Raiders over Eagles, 57-47. Win share of Iron Division.

POSTED February 07, 2019
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

TORRINGTON: For the third consecutive year, the Torrington boys’ basketball team sit atop the Iron standings, this year as tri-champions with Wolcott and Naugatuck after beating the Eagles by a 57-47 final, a far cry from the teams first meeting a month ago.

On January 8 in Wolcott the Raiders jumped out to a big lead but gave it all back in a 93-87 loss, one of two they suffered against Iron Division foes (Naugatuck was the other).

Thursday night at home, the Raiders used an outstanding fourth quarter defensive effort that limited the visitors to just seven points, only one in the first seven plus minutes of the final frame.

Joel Villanueva and Tyreek Davis hit key three pointers on back to back possessions in the fourth for the Raiders, with Davis coming off the bench with four fouls to drain the key trey right in front on the Raiders bench.

This was a big win for the Raiders who now sport a 13-4 mark with three to play in the regular season. Torrington is playing very well, having won three in a row and eight of their last nine.

For the Eagles, Elmin Redzepasic (game high 27) single handedly kept his team in the game, especially in the first half when he scored 16 of his teams 21 first half points.

The Raiders were able to shut down the high scoring big man from Wolcott when it mattered, as Redzepasic managed only three meaningless points late in the fourth with the game decided.

Dontae Thomas scored the quietest 21 points you’ll ever see to lead his team while Villanueva added 17.

“He didn’t.” was head coach Eric Gamari’s reaction to the Thomas point total, “He has been working so hard in practice and it’s really paying off in games.”

Thomas is truly the team’s floor general, his fast pace and ball handling abilities are key for the Torrington offense.

This game was a far cry from the first game between the two Iron Division foes when they combined to score 180 points.

It was 10-6 after one in favor of Torrington and 27-21 at the half with the Raiders still in front.

The visitors came out with some serious energy to start the second half and went on an 8-2 run to knot things at 29.

Redzepasic caught fire once again with eight points in the third as the Eagles went ahead by a 40-36 score before Nick Balducci hit an absolute key three pointer at the buzzer to make it a one-point game with eight to play.      

The final quarter did not start ideally for the home team who turned the ball over four times and committed a charge, but Wolcott had not discovered the basket two minutes in either.

After the turnovers, Villanueva drove to the basket, was fouled and drained both free chances (he was 8 for 8 from the line) to put the Raiders up for good at 41-40.

Davis sat most of the third quarter and into the fourth after picking up his third and fourth fouls early in the second half but connected when it mattered the most to put his team up, 47-40.

Villanueva, a player who has been working hard on his game at the YMCA in Torrington many an early morning before school, has become somewhat automatic at the line and that should serve his team well as the post season rolls around.

Three games remain in the regular season, a road game at Derby next Tuesday, followed by Senior Night on Valentines Day, Thursday, February 14.

Torrington wraps up their campaign with a visit to Waterbury to take on Sacred Heart on Tuesday, February 19.

They trail only the Hearts (17-1, 17-0 in the NVL) in the league standings and are using a variety of lineups to get the job done.  

Tonight was an important night for the Raiders, it was a test and they passed it by holding a   team that rang up 93 on them last time to 46 less the second time around.   

Torrington 57, Wolcott 47

At Torrington

Wolcott          6 15 19 7 47

Torrington    10 17 12 18 57

Wolcott (47): Jeff Nicol 2-0-4, Dane Hassan 1-0-3, Brian Perzhilla 2-3-8, Elmin Redzepasic 11-3-27, Jack Drewry 2-1-5; Totals: 18-7-47

Torrington (57): Dontae Thomas 9-2-21, Nick Balducci 2-0-6, Tyreek Davis 3-0-7, Joel Villanueva 4-8-17, CJ Root 0-2-2, Zac McLaughlin 1-0-2, Kevin Dixon 1-0-2: Totals 20-12-57

3-pointers: (W) Hassan, Perzhilla, Redzepasic 2. (T) Thomas, Balducci 2, Davis, Villanueva

Records: Wolcott 12-6, Torrington 13-4

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