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Raiders fall to Sheehan 42-40 in Class L opener.

POSTED March 04, 2014
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

TORRINGTON: Sometimes the hole is just too deep and the way you ended doesn’t make up for the way you started.

When it comes to the unforgiving winds of March when tournament time rolls around, those slow starts mean you get to start planning for a spring sports season we all hope brings with it temperatures near what each teams scoring total was Tuesday night.

A 12-point first half on 4 for 24 shooting doomed the No. 10 Torrington girls basketball team to a 23-12 halftime score they just could not dig out of, falling 42-40 to No. 23 Sheehan in their Class L opening round game.

Titan junior Joelle MarkAnthony crashed the boards for an offensive rebound and put back bucket with five seconds on the clock to hold off a furious Raider second half comeback that was fueled by a defensive push after a dismal first half.

Torrington, a team that won 15 games in the regular season and a round in the Naugatuck Valley League Tournament, matched up well against the Titans, at least on paper.

Neither team was blessed with significant height but coming out of the gate, the visitors were fortunate to have a 5’5” senior named Olivia Collette who scored 10 of her team’s 14 first quarter points.

The Titans moved the ball well and found good looks while the home team had early turnover trouble and was simply out of sync.

Paige Middleton carried the Torrington effort with seven first half points but the half time total of 12 was in a word, stunning.

“We just didn’t have a good shooting night.” Raider head coach Mike Fritch said. “It’s hard to explain that first half.”

In the second half, the home team came out in an aggressive full court press with three players swarming to the ball and after Sheehan went up by their biggest margin at 25-12, it started to pay dividends.

Freshman Brie Pergola, who figures to only get better and better as she gains more experience, was held to just three points on a late long ball in the first half but got aggressive in the third quarter, taking her game to the basket and getting to the foul line.

You can’t get all the points back at once and Fritch reminded his team to get two points back at a time and that they did and more.

Their 18-point third quarter ran past their first half total of 12 in a hurry, led by mostly back up players who were on the court at the time.

Pergola ran into foul trouble and spent time on the bench at the end of the half and part of the third quarter.

It was the lineup of Caroline Teti, Paige Middleton, Kendra Covington, Olivia Morrison and Taylor Howe who made a dent in the Titans lead and brought the home team back to within six at 36-30 entering the fourth.

Howe had six points in the frame and was easily the aggressor on the boards while Covington had and important basket during the Raiders comeback as well.

When Pergola went coast-to-coast with a steal for a bucket, the home team was within four at 36-32.

A pair of free throws by Collette and an inside basket by Titan freshman Kaitlin Lagase stretched the lead back to eight at 40-32 before the long balls began to fall for Torrington.

Middleton came off a screen and buried a long three which was followed by a bomb by Teti and the hole was almost filled again at 40-38.

Pergola would tie things up with a drive and the basket with under a minute left to play.

Sheehan called time out with 40 seconds on the clock and looked to hold for one shot.

After a miss by Julia Franzik, MarkAnthony was right there to clean up the rebound and put it back in with just five second left.

A pair of Titan fouls (they were still under the limit) gave the home team one more shot at a game winner but a three ball by Middleton on a catch and shoot caught iron but bounced off.

This was a season that Fritch didn’t go into with high expectations but still ended with a team that won 16 and lost 7. They lose Teti and Morison but return players like Howe and Pergola who just gained valuable experience in the art of starting strong.   

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