Torrington girls hold off Watertown in battle of NVL division leaders
POSTED January 12, 2013
TORRINGTON - The Torrington High girls basketball team dominated the first half against Watertown and then regained its footing after a second-half swoon to post a 55-47 victory on Friday night in a matchup of Nagatuck Valley League division leaders.
The Raiders (8-3, 8-2 NVL) were coming off a loss and eager to bounce back while the Indians (10-1, 10-1) came into the game unbeaten but still wondering how good they really were. That combination was a recipe for disaster for Watertown, which found itself in a big hole right off the bat.
"I don't think I'd want to play us coming off that loss to Woodland," Torrington coach Mike Fritch said. "And that's what happened, we came out aggressive and jumped on them. In the second half we didn't do that."
Torrington started the game on a 12-2 run and led 19-5 after the first quarter. Paige Middleton paced the Raiders by scoring nine of her 13 points in the first quarter while Mika Howard added five. It was just the kind of start the Raiders were looking for after losing their last game on a last-second basket at Woodland while it was exactly what the Indians were hoping to avoid.
"We knew they were a tough team and it would be a good game between the top team in the Copper Division and the top team in the Brass," Middleton said. "I think we just came out with an intensity they didn't expect. We beat them on the boards and we beat them down the court and they weren't expecting us to come out like that."
Watertown entered the game the surprise of the season in the NVL and Indians coach Ed Lopes admitted it was the kind of game his team wasn't quite used to playing, a big one where they were expected to compete with, if not beat one of the NVL's perennial powers.
The lack of big-game experience showed in a number of areas. The Indians were tentative and out of sorts on offense and passive on defense. Throw in a ton of turnovers, 12 in the first half, and the 29-12 score at the break was about the best Watertown could have hoped for given its play in the opening 16 minutes.
"Our inexperience in big games showed. We played with some nerves in the beginning. Torrington smelled it and jumped all over it," Watertown coach Ed Lopes said. "We panicked a bit and Torrington did a great job, was the better team tonight and won the game."
Torrington cooled off a bit in the second quarter as well and missed five free throws. The Raiders had a comfortable lead at the break but the Indians weren't going to go away quietly.
Maybe Watertown still has something left to prove, but they got off to a 10-0 start this season for a reason and the Indians showed it in the second half. Watertown started the third quarter on a 8-2 run, playing more aggressive on both ends of the floor while being aided by Torrington, which committed turnovers on its first six possessions of the second half.
"I thought we had everything under control in the first half and then we just sat back and relaxed," Fritch said. "I didn't expect it. We came out and I thought we could hold the ball and we couldn't, we come out and turn the ball over six times."
Watertown whittled the lead to 37-27 entering the fourth quarter and was not done making a run at Torrington. The Indians started the fourth on an 11-5 run and again were aided by the Raiders, who committed three turnovers in the first 2:30 of the fourth. After Jamie Zoldy buried a 3-pointer, Watertown was down only 42-38 with 5:21 to play.
"They did the same thing to us that we did to them at the start, they came out more intense and aggressive for the second half," Middleton said.
But four was as close as the Indians would get. After Zoldy's three, Olivia Morrison made three free throws and Caroline Teti buried a big 3-pointer in a 6-0 run by the Raiders that pushed the lead back to 48-38 with 4:26 to play.
That was the way the rest of the game went, with Watertown fighting to make a run and Torrington fending it off.
"We'll take the win," Fritch said. "We had a good first half, as good as we have had in weeks, since the Holy Cross game."
While Torrington got back on track with the win, Watertown and Lopes could at least take away the second half and the fight it showed in making Torrington sweat this one out when it looked like it was going to be a laugher.
"The kids didn't quit," Lopes said. "We cut it down a couple time but just couldn't get over the hump. It looked like an early season game and that was disappointing to all of us. I'm proud of the way we came back and did not roll over. In years past we would have lost this game by 30."