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Torrington girls advance in Class L state action with 61-39 win over Wilton.

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

TORRINGTON-Consider the monkey that had been on this teams back, expelled from the Connie Donahue Gymnasium.

The third ranked Torrington girls basketball team wasted little time in making sure they would not drop another early game in the Class L State Tournament by jumping out to a 16-5 lead over visiting Wilton, en route to a convincing 61-39 win.

“We came out with a lot of focus and determination,” senior Taylor Christiano said, “We needed to get the first win out of the way.”

Christiano was huge early, scoring seven of her 16 points in the first quarter when she demanded the ball underneath, got it and made it count.

“I told Taylor before the game that she had to be the key,” Raiders head coach Mike Fritch said, “When she gets involved early, we do well.”

Christiano finished the night with a double-double (16 points, 11 rebounds) and was dominant underneath.

Coming off a tough loss to Holy Cross in the Naugatuck Valley League finals, this was indeed a gut check for a team that hasn’t faced a lot of adversity this season and had not had the best of luck in home State games of late.

An doubts vanished in a big hurry as the Torrington press wreaked havoc on the Warriors, who came in ranked # 19 after their 35-28 win over #14 Darien on Monday night.

Albany bound senior Sarah Royals led all scorers with 27 points and helped create the pace on the press that gave the visitors fits.

“We scouted them well and knew they would have a tough time handling the press,” Fritch said, “This is a determined group of players who want to make a run.”

In the first four minutes of the opening quarter, everything was working for the Raiders as they showed off their defensive and offense arsenal.

Royals scored off the opening tip from Christiano and it was off to the races.

Aly Otis (12 points) had her trademark steals that led to two buckets while Royals found her stroke from downtown as the lead went out to 16-5.

Wilton called time out to stop the bleeding and it worked as the road team went on a 7-0 run to close the gap to just 16-12 late in the quarter.

Maddy Fulton, the Warriors leading scorer, scored eight of her ten points on the night in the latter stages of the first, keeping her team in the game.

Royals made sure the visitors would not get too close by nailing a trey just before the quarter ended for a 21-16 lead after one.

Goals. Fritch has set them for his team all year and they have responded well on most.

In the second quarter, goal one was set in motion.

“We wanted to hold them under 10 points in two quarters,” Fritch said, “We met that goal.”

The second quarter belonged to the two seniors, Royals and Christiano, with a little from juniors Mariah Cerruto and Otis.

Christiano was a scoring machine on three straight chances underneath, converting on all three.

Royals scored on a fast break and nailed the second of her three bombs on the night as the lead ballooned out to 34-18.

Otis scored off a steal and Cerruto nailed a trey late in the half and the 40-18 lead dispelled any rumors of a fast exit this season in the Class L tournament.

Next up for the Raiders will be the Sachems from RHAM, who advanced to the quarters with a 48-36 win over New Canaan in their second round game.

RHAM comes in ranked #11 with a 16-6 record to date.

Action kicks off at the Connie Donahue Gymnasium on Monday night, starting at 7 p.m.

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