TORRINGTON >> Torrington’s girls basketball team (14-4) escaped with a 44-40 win over Kennedy (10-8) Tuesday night at Torrington High School.
“We should never have won the game,” said Torrington coach Mike Fritch. “We missed too many foul shots (8-for-20) and too many layups. Fortunately they turned the ball over more than we did (24-20).”
“A couple of loose balls didn’t go our way, but credit to Torrington,” said Kennedy coach Jennifer Hanson. “Their senior leadership carried them through.”
Torrington’s seniors helped the Red Raiders get through a troublesome Eagle press in the second half; they also pitched in on the boards to bring Torrington back from a 21-11 first-half rebounding deficit.
Nevertheless, with the game down to the wire in the final minute, Torrington trailed 40-39.
Red Raider junior Taylor Howe (8 points) dropped in the go-ahead shot from five feet, 41 seconds left.
Torrington threw up a full-court press, holding the Eagles in the backcourt for 10 seconds for the key turnover of the game.
Raider freshman Brie Pergola (game-high 17 points) headed for the basket with a mission statement on her forehead.
Her layup went in, 43-40, 12 seconds left.
One more stop, one more Torrington foul shot by Paige Middleton, the game belonged to the Raiders.
“They had a chance to steal the game and they didn’t,” said Fritch. “We were ripe for the picking.”
“He told me I had to get to the basket,” said Pergola.
“We told her to go; she did a nice job,” said Fritch.
Two factors set up the close call.
“This was pretty much how we practiced for the last couple of days,” said Fritch. “I’ve always said we play the ways we practice.”
Kennedy, on the other hand, came in with a chip on its shoulder.
“We lost some close games early that we expected to win,” said Coach Hanson.
That included the 46-35 home loss to Torrington early last month.
“We had foul troubles,” said Hanson.
Fritch, too, saw a tough battle ahead.
“They’ll get us if we don’t come to play,” he said.
The Eagles proved their point through a bruising first quarter, 11-10, Torrington.
On a cold-shooting night for most of her teammates, Pergola hit a three and a five foot baseline shot to lead the Raiders to a 24-18 lead at the half.
Mia Barbieri got to the line for three points early in the second half. Pergola was back for five more, from outside.
Then, with 5:28 left in the third period, the Eagles threw up a press that launched a 12-1 Kennedy stampede led by sophomore Lynadia Whiting (team-high 12 points), D.J. Alberto and Klarisa Pezo .
Pergola had the lone Torrington point in the run, at the foul line.
When Kennedy center Dominique Moss went to the line for two foul shots at the end of the quarter, the Eagles led 34-33.
Torrington had trouble.
Howe and Pergola started early in the fourth quarter with three points for the lead, 36-34.
Torrington junior Kendra Covington had to wrest it back again, with a foul line jumper, 38-37, two minutes left.
With 1:07 left, the Eagles earned their final lead, 40-39.
Howe, Pergola and Middleton took it from there.
Torrington 44, Kennedy 40
At Torrington High School
Kennedy 10 8 16 6—40
Torrington 11 13 9 11—44
Kennedy (40): Lydandia Whiting 5-0-12; Raegon Davis 2-0-5; Klarisa Pezo 3-2-8; D.J. Alberto 2-2-6; Dominique Moss 1-5-7; Sydney Delgado; Totals: 14-9-40.
Torrington (44): Ashlynn Cook 1-1-3; Paige Middleton 1-1-3; Brie Pergola 7-1-17; Caroline Teti 1-0-2; Brittany Anderson 2-0-4; Mika Howard 0-0-0; Mia Barbieri 1-4-6; Olivia Morrison 0-0-0; Taylor Howe 3-2-8; Kendra Covington 2-0-4; Totals: 17-8-44.
3-point goals: K—Whiting 2; Davis. T—Pergola 2.
Records: Kennedy 10-8; Torrington 14-4.