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Raiders rebound with 59-30 win over Wolcott

POSTED January 04, 2011
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

TORRINGTON - Five days removed from its first loss of the season, the Torrington girls basketball team brought a sense of intensity and purpose to the Connie Donahue Gymnasium against the Wolcott Eagles.

Their last time out, the Raiders had lost to rival Holy Cross by a 50-44 score at “The Pit”, in a game that saw them struggle with the Crusaders' defensive pressure and their own problems at the free throw line.

All that changed on Tuesday as the Raiders, pressed, ran and hit the freebies in an impressive 59-30 win over the visiting Eagles.

“We just went into practice after that loss with a different intensity,” senior co-captain Sarah Royals said. “Instead of just dealing with another teams pressure, we decided to bring it to them.”

The effort paid off as the Raiders hassled, trapped and otherwise bothered an Eagles team that had a hard time setting up their offense in the face of intense pressure.

Losing a game is never on a coach's blackboard, but we have seen in the past what happens to teams when they run through the regular season schedule virtually unblemished, only to lose at the very worst time.

“We beat Holy Cross twice during the regular season last year,” Royals said. “But lost to them when it counted most.”

Against the Crusaders, the charity stripe was anything but giving to the Raiders, who devoted extra time during the practices since their 15-for-30 performance at the line on December 30.

“We accomplished all our goals against Holy Cross,” Head coach Mike Fritch said. “We just didn’t execute at the free throw line.”

Torrington would make their first six at the line in the first half, finishing the night shooting 9-of-12 for the game.

A 22-6 third quarter that saw the Raiders turn the heat up on defense, resulting in a bushel of Eagles turnovers and put the game out of reach.

A game like Tuesday night gives Fritch a chance to work on some of the things he would like to see his team take advantage of.

“We need to work on getting the ball down low to our post players,” Fritch said. “If we get it the ball down there, our chances of getting to the free throw line increase.”

The Eagles had this one close through most of the first quarter until Royals went on a 7-0 run to end the quarter.

Royals and Aly Otis (7 points, 4 steals), clamped down on the Eagles from the inbound line, Otis has been a consistently effective defender who anticipates very well.

In the second quarter, Royals showed off her passing ability with a perfect three-quarters court lead pass that hit Christiano (15 points, 4 blocks, 6 boards) in stride.

What made the play was how Royals threaded the needle to find her teammate and the fact the pass was made before the defender had a chance to turn towards the pass.

Christiano had a strong second quarter that saw her score six points. The senior co-captain has become much more of an offensive threat in 2010-2011.

Up 10 at the half, the Raiders came out and put the clamps on any chance the visitors had in mounting a comeback with that relentless defensive pressure Royals spoke of.

The Eagles where held to two field goals and two free throws in the frame as the Raiders pulled away.

Otis had six points in the quarter, while Christiano added seven.

Torrington improves to 8-1 with the win while the Eagles fall to 3-6.

The Raiders are scheduled to play on Friday night at home against an improved Crosby team at 7 p.m.

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