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Raiders boys start hoop season with impressive 84-64 win over St Paul.

POSTED December 19, 2013
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

TORRINGTON: It’s been a rough three years for the Torrington Raiders boys basketball team.

They’ve posted a combined 20-40 record over that span while missing the States in two of the three.

Getting off to a strong start in the 2013-2014 campaign was critical to fifth year head coach Eric Gamari and his squad and judging from one night, consider the start strong and fast.

The home opener for the Raiders brought with it a one sided affair, an 84-64 win over St. Paul behind a 25-point effort from senior John McCarthy and 24-points from sophomore Zac Mancini.

How they came out did not surprise their head coach in the least.

“This is what I have been seeing in practice since we started,” Gamari said. “I thought we had a very good team game tonight.”

It’s a starting five that’s a mix of youth and experience with seniors McCarthy, Desmond Langs and Mitchell Zagrodnik joined by the two sophomore’s, Mancini and Connor Finn and a bench that allows Gamari to go as many as eight or nine deep.

McCarthy, fresh off a highly successful run on the soccer field this fall, has been the guy who usually got the other team’s best player a year ago but Gamari needs his offense more than his defense this season but both were on display throughout the game.

The Falcons are led by Brendon Carrol who was as good as advertised and led St Paul with 24 points, including five three-pointers.

“We took John off that assignment this year,” Gamari said. “We let Des (Langs) and Victor (Diaz) chase him around tonight.”

It took a quarter plus for the Raiders to find a rhythm but by crashing the boards and limiting the Falcons second chances, their offense found their groove in the second quarter.

Diaz and Mancini led a 6-0 Raiders run that gave them the lead at 25-21, a margin they would stretch to 30-23 with a little under two minutes to play in the half.

A youthful mistake would give the visitors a chance to get back in it before the half as Dom Sabia was called for the teams second delay of game call for knocking the ball away from the Falcons after scoring off a nice feed from Connor Finn.

A technical foul was called and the Falcons made both and ended the half on an 8-2 run to pull within one at 32-31.

“I told them at the half they should have been up 10,” Gamari said. “We settled for too many jump shots at times instead of attacking the basket.”

Well, attack they did in the decisive third quarter, a frame that saw them outscore the visitors by a 30-10 margin, led by a ferocious team defense that forced six turnovers that led to easy baskets.

Layups off turnovers lead to a great shooting percentage and in the frame, the home team was 9-13 from the floor.

Mancini caught fire, scoring 10 of his 24 while McCarthy tallied eight in the period and the lead had ballooned to 21 at 62-41 entering the final frame.

In the fourth, Mancini would end his scoring night with a pair of treys that kept any thought of a Falcon comeback away.  

One of 20 in the books in the win column.

A good start that needs to continue if the Raiders hope to move back into the higher regions of what looks to be a very tough Naugatuck Valley League this year.

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