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Dream may have ended a week too soon for the Raiders, but the 2010-2011 season will go down as one of the best ever at THS.

POSTED March 12, 2011
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

PLAINVILLE-Sure, the Torrington girls basketball team would have loved to play one more game for a chance at the title a week from today.

That dream may have fell short in their 52-49 Class L semi-final contest against E.O. Smith but there is simply no taking away how much this team helped the Torrington program grow around the state.

“We have built a good program here,” head coach Mike Fritch said after consoling his team following the final buzzer, “I will always be proud of how this team played this year.”

The program progressed behind a terrific group of seniors who have left their mark for all time in Torrington girls basketball.

Start with Sarah Royals, the Albany bound senior who watched her sisters play before her and managed to shatter about every school record imaginable in her remarkable four years.

Her energy, determination and tenacity (along with those cool orange sneaks) drove her team to new heights this season.

Mind you, this is a player who changed how she shot free throws mid season this year with the help of Fritch and also worked on her outside shooting, something she will need when she takes the court in Albany next fall.

On her final appearance on the hardwood for the Raiders, Royals led all scorers with 20 points despite fouling out with just under two minutes to play but became head cheerleader the remainder of the game.

“You can’t replace a Sarah Royals,” Fritch said, “She makes everybody on the court better when she is on.”

There’s Taylor Christiano, who came out her shell in a big way late in the season and was a force on offense under boards with a strong drive to the hoop.

Christiano finished with 10 points and while this one will sting for a while, the senior center understood what her team was able to accomplish over the past two seasons.

“It’s real tough right now,” Christiano said, “But when we look back on all we did in a day or two, we will realize we have a lot to be proud of.”

The third senior, Brittany Kackowski, will down in THS history as one of the toughest players ever to wear a Raider uniform.

It’s hard to describe how far Kackowski came over the last three years unless you saw her back then. Her ability to challenge anyone on the boards at any time will be truly missed.

While the fourth senior in the group, Gena Pietrefase, didn’t see as much playing time as the rest, her support from the bench and ability to hit a key three pointers while spelling either Royals or Mariah Cerruto was a key part of this teams success.

If anybody thinks the Raiders are in for a dry spell, think again.

There is some serious talent coming back next year and it all starts with Cerruto, a junior who has paid her dues and become one of the elite point guards in the Naugatuck Valley League who will only get better by the time December rolls around again.

Nobody improved on both ends of the court as much as junior Aly Otis did this year.

Her toughness grew by leaps and bounds since the season began and so did her scoring.

Fearless under the basket, with our without the ball, Otis made shots this year with multiple players draped all over her.

Her short jumper improved and will be an important piece of the puzzle next season.

Sophomore Nicole Kozlak and freshman Caroline Teti saw considerable time this season and will be that much stronger next time out.

Like Fritch said, they have a very good program at THS and that tradition will continue for years to come.

Sadness for the loss, euphoria over the effort and accomplishment that was the 2010-2011 Raiders season.

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