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Raiders fall to Hearts for first time since 2008 in season opener.

POSTED December 12, 2013
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

TORRINGTON: Going into to their home and opener against Sacred Heart, the Torrington girls basketball team knew they had to stop two players on the Hearts, one back after a season ending injury from a year ago, the other a gift to a very happy head coach.

Knowing and translating that into stopping the duo proved to be too big a task for the Raiders who fell to the Hearts for the first time since January 15, 2008 by a 47-42 score.

Mikyla Jacobs (24 points) and Maya Eggleston (17) combined for all but six of their team’s points while dominating the boards on both ends to a 31-11 advantage.

“We are going to struggle on the boards,” Raider head coach Mike Fritch said. “We’re not tall and it showed tonight. Those two girls killed us.”

A year after capturing their first Naugatuck Valley League Championship, the defending champions enter the season without a clear cut offensive threat.

Caroline Teti led Torrington with 12 points but at times the home team seemed to be looking for someone else to take the shot.

Gone from last year’s team is Nicole Kozlak, a true three point threat who looked to shoot when she could.

Pulling the trigger seemed to be a challenge for a team that will take a little while to find their identity this season.

Paige Middleton added eight while Mika Howard chipped in with seven.

Howard scored her team’s first four points but her second bucket didn’t fall until there was just over two minutes left in the opening quarter.

Fritch went to his bench and they gave the Raiders a boost with Brittany Anderson, Brie Pergola and Taylor Howe landing baskets to bring the home team back from a 9-4 deficit; Torrington trailed 12-10 after one.

Teti and Howard gave the Raiders their first lead in the opening minutes of the second quarter and they would stretch the lead to 20-16, their biggest lead of the night before Eggleston nailed a three pointer and a free throw to knot things at 20.

“When we found out that Kara was coming to us we were thrilled,” Hearts head Coach Ryan Sullivan said. “She is very tough to stop.”

Sacred Heart went into the break up one at 21-20, not exactly an offensive explosion by either team but with practice time limited due to the weather, not unexpected either.

After the break, Jacobs came out with a new sense of determination and it showed with 10 third quarter points.

“There was a little rust there early,” Sullivan said. “We always talk to Mikyla about being more aggressive and in the second half, the light came on.”

Teti would add seven for the home team who went back up 33-29 with just over a minute left in the third on a pair of free throws from Mia Barbieri.

Jacobs and Eggleston would end the quarter on a 6-0 run to give the visitors a lead they would not give back in the final frame.

Teti made it interesting down the stretch with five straight points with just under two to play to bring her team within three at 45-42 but that next basket never came and the Hearts left on a high note, the Raiders in search of an identity.

It’s never unusual for a team to take a few games to throw their signature on the hardwood.

Who are the scorers?

What kind of team will they be?

The mold is still being formed.

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