Print this story

Raiders hold of Kennedy, 52-43, ready themselves for Holy Cross Tuesday night at 7 p.m.

POSTED February 08, 2011
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

TORRINGTON-When a well oiled machine loses a key part of what made it work so well, the results can be less than desirable.

Such was almost the case Monday night as the Torrington girls basketball team, minus junior Aly Otis for the final three quarters, struggled to beat a Kennedy team that came in with just two wins this season by a 52-43 score.

At the beginning of a week that will see the Raiders play three times in five games, the most critical one tonight when they host Holy Cross, this one was supposed to be a warm-up without any real consequences.

For the first eight minutes of the game, it looked like any other game Torrington had played over the last month; a 12-point lead at 20-8.

Sarah Royals (25 points) scored nine in the quarter while Taylor Christiano connected for six points, two buckets on strong moves to the basket, something that the talented senior has shown more of a desire to do of late.

When Nicole Kozlak drained a three pointers just before the end of the quarter, it looked like another easy night on the job for a team that is now 15-1.

Otis came out late in the first quarter and after consulting with the trainer, had her left ankle wrapped in ice and her night was over.

An interesting second and third quarter was about to begin for her teammates though.

Kennedy, coached by Jen Hansen, a coach who’s team has struggled this season with a 2-13 record coming in.

One thing about a Hansen coached team, as we have seen over the years; if they start to get confidence on the court, it can lead to something.

The Eagles came out fast in the second quarter while the home team struggled to find a rhythm without Otis.

Kennedy went on a 6-0 run to cut the lead to 20-14 before Royals scored her teams first points of the quarter on two free throws with 4:54 left in the frame.

The visitors, led by Aubrinne Losty, started to get that feeling and were running off every missed Raiders shot.

It would be a seven point lead for Torrington at the break but momentum was swinging to the Eagles just from the fact that they were as close as they were.

“We were real happy when we went to the half just down seven,” Hanson said, “Especially against a team like Torrington.”

It’s been a long time (the 50-44 loss to Holy Cross on December 30) since the Raiders had been challenged and make no mistake; the Eagles were standing up to the home team.

When Losty hoisted a long three with 5:10 left in the third, Kennedy was within two at 30-28 and the Raiders could not buy a basket.

Royals scored her teams first six points of the second half but nothing else was falling from her teammates.

Morgan Thulin, who replaced Otis, played well with four points and a couple of steals in the quarter as the Raiders went to their pressure defense for the first time midway through the third.

Another 6-0 run by the visitors was capped off by a lay-up by Quanesha Copper to tie the game at 34-34.

By now, the Eagles and Jansen were definitely smelling and feeling an upset.

The teams went into the final frame tied at 40.

“They started to believe,” Torrington head coach Mike Fritch said, “We were trying different combinations to get something going but nothing was working.”

The Eagles took their first lead of the night on another Copper inside put back to go up 42-40.

The only thing working in the Raiders favor was the foul situation; the were in the one and one from the start of the final quarter.

Well, in truth, the foul line was working for and against them. They visited often, but did not connect anywhere near as well (8 of 15) as they had in the first three quarters.

After losing the lead though, Torrington turned up the defensive pressure to scalding, holding the Eagles to just a made free throw the rest of the way, outscoring Kennedy by a 12-3 margin in the final frame to escape with the win.

With Holy Cross getting ready to travel up Route 8 later today, maybe it was better for the Raiders to play in a game that was not a cake walk.

They had to earn this one, as the will against the Crusaders, with our without Otis.

NOTES: Tonight’s game will be broadcast live on Torrington’s community radio station, WAPJ (105.9 and 89.9 F.M.). Art Benedict and his crew will be on the air at 6:45 p.m.

For more from Timothy W. Gaffney click here