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Torrington girls basketball continues to improve with 63-39 win over Woodland. Story by John Nestor.

POSTED January 12, 2012
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

TORRINGTON - The Torrington High School girls basketball team is starting to find out who they really are this season and what they are finding is that they are pretty good.

Continuing their winning ways, the Red Raiders got 18 points from Ali Otis and 12 from Caycee Williams in a 63-39 victory over Woodland on Tuesday night at Torrington High School.

The win was Torrignton's sixth straight and raised their record to 9-2 on the season. The Raiders will go for win #10 on the season Friday night in Watertown.

Coming off a deep run in the state tournament a year ago, Torrington entered the season looking for its new identity with star guard Sarah Royals gone to play Division-I ball at Albany. The season started with two losses in the first five games for the Red Raiders but they have grown by leaps and bounds since.

"The kids played well," Torrington coach Mike Fritch said. "One of the things we have done well the last three or four games is we have played as a unit. We have really shared the ball and we have built a great trust in each other."

That trust has been built up with wins and it was apparent early on that another one was coming Tuesday night. Woodland was no match for Torrington from the outset as the Red Raiders grabbed the lead right away and never let it go. Otis and Williams combined for 14 points in the first as Torrington built a 23-8 lead and never looked back.

Otis added six more in the second (she had 14 at the break) and Caroline Teti hit a couple baskets in the quarter to help push the lead to 38-15.

It was a combination of solid defense and good execution on the offensive end and it was something Fritch and the Raiders have been working on lately.

"The ball movement today was pretty good, everybody touched it. We have put in a new offense against the zone and it's working," Fritch said. "We opened up the second half and got a basket on a possession where we had 13 passes - I was counting them. They are starting to realize when everybody touches the ball you get good looks and that is something we have been working on the last two or three weeks."

The offense worked but so did the defense. Torrington forced Woodland into 29 turnovers, including 17 in the decisive first half while the Raiders only committed 13 for the game. That's not bad considering that Fritch played 15 players and 10 of them scored.

"It was a good game for us, we have been working on a new offense and we got to utilize it tonight," Otis said. "We did a good job finding the open player and getting good shots."

Fritch made wholesale substitutions in the third quarter and then again early in the fourth as he got his starters out of the game for good. The reserves played well and never let Woodland get the faintest idea that they were primed for a comeback, and that too was something Torrington had been working on.

"We had a let down against Naugatuck," Fritch said. "We had a 22-point lead and I subbed and it went down to 12. We had a big discussion about that in practice. If you are going to come off the bench and you are going to play, you have to maintain or improve, but at least maintain the lead and I thought our group did that today."

Now at 9-2, Torrington is once again establishing itself among the leaders in the NVL and as one of the top teams in Class L. There is a long way to go, including a rematch with Holy Cross on Jan. 31, but Fritch likes what he sees from his squad so far.

"We are trusting our teammates, a new team doesn't usually do that in the beginning," Fritch said. "We have matured to that point. I'm happy with them."

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