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Torrington boys and girls hit the hardwood.

POSTED December 01, 2011
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

Alyssa Otis (left in black) and Caycee Williams (right in red) will be major players for the Torrington girls basketball team in 2011. The Raiders were hard at work in the gym on Wednesday night preparing for the 2011-2012 campaign.

TORRINGTON: It’s basketball time ladies and gentleman!

While the weather outside has certainly not made us long for the great indoors, the calendar says it’s December and that means it’s time for local teams to take to the hardwood.

On Wednesday night, the Torrington boys and girls held back to back practices as they each prepare for the 2011-2012 campaign.

For girls head coach Mike Fritch, it is the first season in almost a decade without a Royals player in the starring role.

Sarah Royals, who is seeing considerable playing time at the University of Albany, had been the Raiders go-to player since taking over for her sister Michelle in her sophomore year.

Her 20-plus points per game will be hard to replace but a new addition is expected to help lesson the blow.

Caycee Williams comes to Torrington after spending the previous three years at Wamogo for Kevin Crowley and the Warriors.

The younger sister of now New Jersey Nets draft pick Jordan, Caycee gives the Raiders some much needed height in the middle.

Back this year for Fritch are three players who made an impact on a team that posted a 19-1 regular season a year ago.

Senior point guard Mariah Cerruto is back and has developed into one of the top point guards in the Naugatuck Valley League.

Her ability to break down the press will be essential, especially with a new partner, sophomore Caroline Teti along side her this year.

Alyssa Otis had a break out year in 2010-2011 on the offensive and defensive side of the court.

The Raiders should get some of the lost points back from a more confident Otis who, as a lefty, is hard to defend.

Nicole Kozlak, who was a three-point threat for Fritch last year, will see time in the starting five and will be counted on for offense as well.

Fritch, who watched his team struggle while beating Housatonic in a scrimmage on Tuesday night, understands there is much to be done.

“We are very much a work in progress.” Fritch said. “We can’t replace a player like Sarah (Royals). We won’t be scoring 60-70 points this year, more like 50-60.”

The Raiders defense will need to be just as strong as it has been over the last decade in order for them to make some noise in the NVL this season.

For third year head coach Eric Gamari, it’s been a back to the basics approach as he looks to develop a team that reflects his own tenacious brand of basketball.

A hard nosed, hit the floor player in his day, Gamari looks to instill in his players the same approach to the game.

In the fast paced Naugatuck Valley League, it’s keep up or get left behind and the Raiders will need to find their own identity in a hurry this year.

Torrington lost a great deal of offensive firepower with the graduations of Jalen Johnson, Martin Mitchell and Bryan Failla.

Returning players such as David Canny, Tony Consolini, Austin Kelson and Will Duman will determine how many points the Raiders can put up each night.

Brenden Lytton, fresh off a record breaking season with the Raiders football team, will look to be a force on the boards as he was a season ago while adding more offense to his game.

Canny started to develop his inside game a year ago while Consolini and Kelson saw action as well.

Duman should see some time at the point this season and will need to help this years team find out who they are and what it will take for them to put “W’s” on the board.

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