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Raiders girls making strides but fall to St. Paul, 51-39.

POSTED January 27, 2016
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

TORRINGTON: The first time the Torrington girls basketball team came across one of the Naugatuck Valley League elite teams for 2015-2016, it wasn’t pretty as they were pounded by Holy Cross,75-3 3.

That was the fourth game of the season.

How much have the very inexperienced Raiders grown up since then?

Let’s go with considerable after they faced the second place team in the league, the St. Paul Falcons on Wednesday night and came out on the short end again. but this time just by a 51-39 final.

“We told the kids afterwards,” head coach Mike Fritch said, “that they went from taking baby steps to taking toddler steps. I can see the improvement.”

Less a stretch in the first quarter when the Falcons' full court pressure led to a flurry of turnovers (10 in the first half), the Raiders managed to stay with a team with just one loss (also to the Crusaders) that features one of the most talented players in the NVL in Lizzy Cretella.

Cretella had seven first quarter points as the visitors used their defense to separate from the Raiders with a 9-2 run over the last three minutes.

In a game that almost got away from them, Torrington hung around and did manage to get back within six with under two to play in the first half at 25-19. That inexperience, though, on one side (the Raiders) was countered on the other by a veteran team (the Falcons) on the other who scored the half’s final six points to keep it a double digit lead.

Neither team managed to get a whole lot done offensively in the third quarter, the home team won the quarter, but just by a 6-5 margin.

Fritch received a monster game from junior Sidnee Koval, who led the Raiders with 12 points and 11 rebounds, seven of them on the offensive glass. For good measure, Koval pitched in with four blocked shots.

Fellow junior Brie Pergola added 10 points, while Lindsey Mathieu continued to improve with four points, three steals, two assists and three rebounds.

Toddler steps, as Fritch is preaching.

How close did the Raiders come to making it an even tighter contest?

“Today,” Fritch said, “if we had made some layups and some foul shots without turning it over so much in the first half, we have a whole other game.”

Indeed, in the fourth quarter, down a dozen, the home team went on a 6-0 run off a pair of baskets by Koval sandwiched around a Pergola stop and pop from the top of the key to come within six at 38-31 with 5:32 to go.

Here’s where that experience counted.

The Falcons slowed things down, forcing the Raiders to foul. Down the stretch, the visitors converted seven of eleven tries from the charity stripe while playing tough defense.

This is a team that has players remaining from the team that made a run all the way to Mohegan Sun two years ago against Thomaston and lost.

They have been in games that got tight and in most cases, know how to finish games.

For Fritch and company, the remaining seven games are important as they try and finish strong and continue building for next year when being one year older may bring them closer to the team they want to be.

St Paul 51, Torrington 39

St Paul 15 16 5 11 51

Torrington 10 9 6 8 39

St Paul (51): Bridig Johndrow 2-2-6, Emily Sklenka 3-0-6, Molly Hooks 1-0-2, Lizzy Cretella 7-12-26, Lizzy Ferraro 1-0-2, Stephanie Speaker 2-1-5, Alexa Morneault 2-0-4, Totals: 18-15-51

Torrington (39): Alexis Tyrrell 1-0-3, Brie Pergola 5-0-10, Sidnee Koval 6-0-12, Shannon Reardon 1-1-3, Sara Bardwell 3-0-6, Lindsey Mathieu 2-0-4, Caitlin Cornish 0-1-1: Totals: 18-2-39

3-pointers: Torrington: Tyrrell

Records: St Paul 13-1. Torrington 7-6

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