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Torrington goes to 7-0 with win over Derby; tough test against Holy Cross on deck.

POSTED December 28, 2010
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

TORRINGTON - In the big picture, this was the Torrington girls basketball team seventh straight win, an easy 66-31 win over an over-matched Derby team.

Sarah Royals scored 16 points in about two full quarters of action and four others tallied eight points each.

In the short term, though, what Tuesday night did was get the Red Raiders from Torrington (both teams sport the same nickname) one day closer to their biggest game so far in the 2010-2011 campaign.

It’s far too early to call the eighth game of the year a critical one, so we will just call it the top to date.

On Thursday night, Torrington travels down Route 8 to Waterbury, where they will take on the Holy Cross Crusaders at 7 p.m. in “The Pit”.

“The Pit” is always a tough place to play, no matter who you are.

Add the drama of two Naugatuck Valley League rivals to the mix and you got something cooking.

Both teams figure to be in the mix for the Copper Division crown when all is said and done; entering play on Tuesday, neither had lost.

The Crusaders where hosting Ansonia on Tuesday night and could also come in with a perfect 7-0 record.

What awaits the Raiders when they get off the bus at Holy Cross on Thursday?

“They will press man-to man all night,” Torrington head coach Mike Fritch said. “We both play that kind of defense so it will be a question of who handles it best.”

Since they are still coached by Frank Lombardo, the Crusaders will launch their share of three point attempts; always have, always will.

In their first seven games, the Raiders of Torrington have not shown they are shy about putting up some treys; they connected on five Tuesday night and have four players capable of hitting the long ball but more importantly, have a balanced offense.

Royals, Mariah Cerruto, Nicole Kozlak and freshman Caroline Teti can all make things happen from beyond the arch.

On the inside, Taylor Christiano, Aly Otis and Brittany Kackowski have shown they too can make things happen underneath the basket.

Kackowski in particular has elevated her game this season, much as she did on the soccer field this fall.

The same can be said for Otis and Christiano who have improved after a successful season on the pitch that saw their team win more regular season games than any girls team in THS history.

Which brings me to my next point about why this team may have what it takes to get to the next level.

The starting five, Royals, Cerruto, Kackowski, Otis and Christiano where also starters on the soccer team, they have learned their roles on both teams, something that may have been missing in the past.

“We all know what our rolls are on this team,” Christiano said. “Last year I think we had trouble figuring out what our roles were. It helps us play as a team so much better.”

Depth may come into play on Thursday night; the Raiders have it, the Crusaders not so much.

“If we can get to their bench,” Fritch said. “That may be the difference.”

The Raiders have been able to get multiple lineups in the mix so far this season, thanks to games like Tuesday night.

The real challenge comes Thursday night in Waterbury.

In their first challenge this year against St Paul (a team that won a State Championship a year ago) in early December, Torrington won by 20.

Test one was passed.

Test two, is on deck.

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