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The Torrington boys and girls basketball teams sweep Watertown, Monday night on the hardwood.

POSTED January 15, 2018
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

TORRINGTON: Maybe the Torrington boys' and girls' basketball teams should play at home together more often because the results for one night were just what the doctor ordered.

The originally scheduled games were slated for Tuesday until the most recent threat of snow caused a change in both day and in the case of the Raider boys, a venue change.

Both teams faced the Watertown Indians and in the opener, the boys ran by their visitors by a 91-49 final to move their record out to 7-2, their best after nine games since they went 7-2 back in the 2008/2009 campaign.

In game two, the Raider girls continued their recent stretch of playing much better basketball by holding off the Indians in a 55-46 final behind 15 points from Alyssa Maraia and 11 each from Kirsten Gray and Kate Mooney.

Game one was briefly a close one in the first quarter as Watertown held a 10-9 lead midway through the opening frame only to see the home team go on a ridiculous 25-0 run, fueled by six three pointers that left no doubt about what the outcome of this one would be.

The Raiders would connect on 11 long balls in the first half, 17 for the game.

Joel Villanueva was one of five Raiders who finished in double figures with 17 while Chris Jimenez, who has become lethal from long range, finished with 14.

This ends a stretch for Torrington that saw them run off five straight wins and leads them into a big match up against Sacred Heart on Friday at Alumni Hall.

Head coach Eric Gamari had been looking for this kind of streak after his team split their first four games of the year, including an impressive opening night win over Crosby.

The battle against the Hearts, in a hostile and small gym on Friday, will be a good test for the Raiders as they will get a chance to measure where they stand against one of the top teams in the state.

Torrington will need to bring their "A" game on Friday night against the high-flying Hearts and even more than that, will have to play within themselves, not allowing the moment to get ahead of them, something Villanueva is fully aware of.

"We have to come prepared," Villanueva said. "These next couple of games are really going to test us. We have to play our game and approach it as we would any other game."

Senior guard Richy Rodriguez has helped his team blow through these last five games by having a similar approach each time out, regardless of the opponent.

"We tell each other before every game to play like we are playing Sacred Heart," Rodriguez said. "In our huddles we don't take anything for granted. We try and go out and play that team like they are one of the best in the state."

In the nightcap, the Raider girls started strong against the Indians, jumping out to a 17-8 lead after one behind an assortment of aggressive drives to the basket, something that had been lacking at points this year.

Amelia Mierzwinski (8 points) and freshman Kate Mooney (11 points) each took the ball to the basket forcefully and connected, Mooney on two occasions in the first quarter.

There have been games this year that the Raiders had gotten off to strong starts (12-0 versus Woodland), only to give it all back later in the game.

Tonight, the development of this young teams jelled when it counted and Maraia felt it happening during that strong first half. 

"I think in each game we have progressed in certain areas and situations," Maraia said. "And I think tonight we kind of put all those situations together. Being up 20 definitely felt good for all of us." 

The girls led 34-19 at the half and were up 48-27 after three before the Indians cranked up the defensive pressure and climbed back into the contest.

Head coach Mike Fritch was very happy with his team after twenty-four minutes of action. 

"I liked the first three quarters," Fritch said. "I thought we played with a little bit of intensity. We made some big shots today and everybody was involved."

The final eight minutes were a little less comfortable, but the visitors never got the Raiders lead back under double digits, a plus for a team still learning how to play all 32 minutes at the same level.

How did hanging on help their development?

"I think that shows that they can win," Fritch said. "That's the most we scored all year and we didn't give it all back." 

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