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TJ Calabrese (30) leads Raiders to 59-43 win over visiting Wolcott.

POSTED January 14, 2020
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

TORRINGTON: The words that Torrington junior TJ Calabrese spoke must have been music to the ears of his head coach, Eric Gamari who has been preaching about preparation throughout this campaign.

“Coach has been stressing going all out in practice,” Calabrese said. “I wasn’t happy with how I played on Friday night (a 71-66 win over St Paul) so I decided to give it my all in practice every time.”

The work certainly paid off as Calabrese poured in 30 points in a 59-43 win over visiting Wolcott to help improve his team’s record to 3-4.

Torrington was determined to not simply depend on the long ball, which is great if it’s falling but not so if it’s an off night from beyond the three-point line.

“We made a conscious effort to punch the ball inside,” Gamari said. “It seemed that when we were not making three’s we were in trouble.”

Calabrese had many an open look on Friday against the Falcons but the easy ones were not falling, hence the extra work on Sunday.

It paid off as Torrington went to the talented junior towards the end of the first quarter when the Eagles were up, 13-10.

Two strong moves to the basket resulted in free throws and Calabrese converted all four chance to give his team a lead after one, 15-13.

He would add six points in the second quarter as the home team created some separation, fueled not only by Calabrese but a mighty aggressive defense that started to create turnovers that led to easy buckets.

Brian Ballesteros (10 points) turned up the heat with a pair of steals that stirred the offense and resulted in the visitors scoring just three points in the frame.

The home team went to the locker room up 29-16.

Wolcott would push things in the third quarter, coming out with an 8-2 run to cut the lead to seven at 31-24 before Ben Smith (two buckets) and Nick Balducci (one) brought the number back over double digits where it would remain the rest of the night.

Calabrese left no doubt by adding 13-points in the fourth quarter, including seven of eight from the free throw line.

For the game, the junior would convert on 12 of 17 chances from the line and was the only Raider to attempt a free throw (thank you Mike Gamari), a rare feat indeed.

The Raiders find themselves sitting right around were Gamari thought they would be at this point in the year at 3-4 with Oxford on deck on Wednesday night.

“I told them that we now have to go out and start winning on the road.” Gamari said. “It’s something we haven’t done yet this year so we need to be ready for it.”

If more Raiders adapt the approach of the guy who landed 30 tonight, better days may continue.   

“I think the more I push myself in practice,” Calabrese said. “The more it’s going to translate on the court.”

Words coaches will never get tired of.

Torrington 59, Wolcott 43

At Torrington

Wolcott       13 3 13 14 43

Torrington 15 14 12 18 59

Wolcott (43): TJ Goldberg 5-6-18, Ryan Ligi 3-1-7, Brian Perzhilla 2-2-6, Colin Brandt 1-0-3, Jon Moore 1-0-2, Tyler Chance 1-2-5, Nick Nobrega 1-0-2: Total: 14-5-43

Torrington (59): TJ Calabrese 9-12-30, Joe White 2-0-4, Nick Balducci 5-0-11, Brian Ballesteros 5-0-10, Ben Smith 2-0-4: Totals: 23-12-59

Three Point Goals: (W) Goldberg 2 Brandt Chance. (T) Balducci

Records: Wolcott 1-7, Torrington 3-4.

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