RAIDERS EVEN RECORD TO 6-6 WITH 81-80 WIN OVER YELLOWJACKETS
TORRINGTON: It all started back with an overtime win on an incredibly emotional night in early January and has propelled the Torrington boys basketball team all the way back to the .500 mark at 6-6.
After beginning this season 1-5, the prospects of making a run at the state tournament seemed bleak at best for head coach Eric Gamari and his Raiders.
Since that night, Tim Considine ALS Night (an overtime 67-63 win over rival Naugatuck), Torrington has turned their season around with a 5-1 streak, their latest a thrilling 81-80 win over Gilbert in what Gamari called, “A Border War.”
A Berkshire League team against a Naugatuck Valley League team face off doesn’t happen very often but all who saw Saturday nights adventure came away having gotten their monies worth.
Austin Kelson hit one of two free throws with four seconds left to give the Raiders a one point lead before a Robert Skinner NBA three-pointer hit the rim and gave the home team a hard fought “W”.
Skinner finished the game with an astounding 41 points, including 17 in the fourth quarter when the visitors charged back with a 30 point final frame to set up the dramatic ending.
“Robert can play anywhere.” Gamari said afterwards. “He has the ability to take his team on his back and just get it done.”
For the Raiders, who played their second game in two night, Kelson paced the way with 28 points, including some clutch free throw shooting (12-14 overall, 7-9 in the fourth).
David Canny, who has had a monster week, added 25 points and finishes a grueling three-game week averaging 30 points per game.
Luis Cordova added 22 for the ’Jackets, who fall to 7-3 on the year but proved they belonged against their NVL foe to the south.
Torrington held a 40-31 edge at the half but a strong third quarter left Gilbert within striking distance at 57-50 as the fourth quarter began.
Skinner did what he does but the Raiders and Kelson kept hitting their free throws, setting up a dramatic final 20 seconds.
Down 80-77, Skinner nailed a three-pointer that tied things at 80 with 15 seconds to go.
Torrington elected not to call time out and instead sent Kelson on a drive to the basket where he was fouled with four ticks left on the clock.
After missing the first, Kelson connected on the final shot and when Skinner’s prayer clanged off the rim, the Raiders had come all the way back to even with eight to play.
Two more wins and Torrington heads back to the States for the first time in three seasons and you gotta believe has one Tim Considine, smiling down on the team he loved to root for.