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Raider boys hang on, beat Wilby 90-83 in a game with 66 combined free throws.

POSTED January 26, 2018
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

TORRINGTON: After one quarter of action on Friday night at the Connie Donahue Gymnasium, the home team was having a fairly easy time of it against their opponents, the Wilby Wildcats.

Torrington was in control, up 23-8 thanks to a 15-0 run, fueled by a second unit that came in to spell a different looking, but effective starting five.

That second unit got seven points from Jordan Hennebery (game high 27) and six from Dontae Thomas (21) to go up to that 15-point lead after eight minutes.

The Wildcats though, woke up in the second quarter and hung around, thanks to a dominant stand on the boards and relentless attacking of the basket which resulted in two things.

Free throws and a slow pace, which suited them fine.

The home team though, stayed pretty much in control after two frames, up 45-31 at the break.

Raider head coach Eric Gamari was down a starter with junior Joel Villanueva out with the flu so he started a new five on Friday with CJ Root, Kevin Dixon, Adrian Gonzalez, Chris Jimenez and Hunter Murphy on the floor at the start of the first and third quarters.

It was a good opportunity for Gamari to get a good luck at the depth on this team as they head into the final eight games of the regular season with the Raiders now 8-4.

I"m proud of how that first group played," Gamari said. "CJ (Root) played well and I liked what I saw from Chris (Jimenez) as well."

The second half turned into a frenzy of fouls and free throws, with 66 shots coming from the charity strip between the two teams.

You knew trouble was brewing for both team when they were both in the double bonus mid-way through a brutally long third quarter as Wilby attempted 14 free throws and the Raiders 13.

Still, the Raiders entered the fourth up 11 at 65-54 and stretched that lead to 75-59 on a three-pointer by Thomas that came off some of the best passing of the night by either team.

Off the break, Gonzalez got the ball inside but got it out to Murphy who quickly found Thomas for the trey.

Midway through the fourth though, the Wildcats threw something at the Raiders they had seen yet this year; a press and it was effective for the visitors as the home team struggled to break it.

The turnovers fueled a 11-0 run by Wilby and just a 77-74 lead by the Raiders.

Losing a game that they had so much control over would have been as bad a loss as the Raiders have had this year.

With just over two minutes to play in regulation and his team clearly on the ropes, Henneberry took an inbound pass and made a terrific pass to Dixon who converted the layup for a bit more breathing room.

Henneberry was aggressive all night, taking his game to the basket which resulted in him converting 13 of 16 free throws.

With the Wildcats pressing heavily, guards Richy Rodriguez and Thomas did their best to handle the ball and got to the foul line as the Wildcats were forced to foul.

A late technical foul that led to a pair of made free throws by Rodriguez and two more by Thomas gave the home team the space they needed to pull out a win that was harder then it needed to be, but a win is a win.

The Raiders are back in action on Monday when they take on Newtown in an out of conference game at home before taking to the road for games at Derby, Naugatuck and Woodland.

After falling to the Greyhounds earlier this week, the Raiders be looking to know things back up in the Iron Division if they can win next Friday night.

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