TORRINGTON >> Defending Class S boys basketball champion Immaculate played one of its best games of the year while Torrington played one of its worst Monday night at Torrington High School.
The result was a 70-42 massacre by the Mustangs that looked worse than the final score when it mattered in the first half.
“They played really well and we had a clunker,” said Torrington Coach Eric Gamari.
Playing an aggressive, trapping 2-3 zone and a lightning-quick offense, the Mustangs (9-4) froze the Red Raiders (6-6) in their headlights from the beginning, forcing one bad Torrington pass after another, then shooting downcourt for easy layups or putbacks.
The Torrington team that stood up to No. 3 Sacred Heart earlier this year looked like they wore lead boots against the Mustangs.
“I think they were surprised,” Gamari said.
“We played really well tonight,” said Immaculate Coach Nelson Mingachos, whose championship team graduated into a young team with just one starting senior, center Will Hatcher, returning, while adding two juniors, a sophomore and a freshman to the starting lineup.
“We shot and ran well from the beginning. That boosts their confidence and it builds from there.”
Indeed, it did.
Already down in the running game, Torrington tried a press that leaked layups. The 6-foot-3 Hatcher dominated the boards and joined in the Mustang stealing marathon when the Raiders tried to force passes into the middle.
Immaculate guard Ronan Doherty (game-high 18 points) and Hatcher (14 points) scored seven points apiece in a 24-point Immaculate first quarter to 6 for Torrington.
Hatcher dominated for another seven in the second quarter, then sat out most of the second half. The Mustang lead was 45-13 by the break.
Torrington tried its own 2-3 zone in the second half, producing a pair of three’s from Isaiah Payton (13 points) and another from Doherty.
Torrington’s Joel Villanueva broke free for two threes of his own in the third quarter on the way to a team-high 13 points, all in the second half.
“We’re trying to make a run,” said Coach Mingachos. “The guys are up for big games this week (in Immaculate’s SouthWest Conference) against Brookfield and Bethel.”
“I’ve been trying to lead the team,” said Hatcher, opting to play lacrosse next year at Renssalaer. “I’d like to see what it would be like to win it all again.”
Immaculate 70, Torrington 42
At Torrington High School
Immaculate 24 21 17 8 – 70
Torrington 6 7 17 12 – 42
Immaculate (70): Isaiah Payton 5-1-13; Mike Basile 4-1-9; Donte Williams 1-0-2; C.J. Johnson 0-0-0; Quinn Guth 0-2-2; Jack Woods 1-0-2; Ronan Doherty 8-1-18; Sean Guiry 2-2-6; Will Hatcher 6-2-14; Kyle Buzzi 2-0-4; Luke Cropsey 0-0-0; Totals 29-9-70.
Torrington (42): Andrew Languell 1-0-2; Richy Rodriguez 1-0-2; Tyreek Davis 2-1-6; Nick Dalla Valle 1-0-2; Dontae Thomas 0-0-0; Joel Villanueva 4-3-13; Jordan Henneberry 1-2-4; Stephon Dailey 2-0-5; Hunter Murphy 2-0-4; Adrian Gonzalez 2-0-4; Totals: 16-6-2.
Halftime score: 45-13 Immaculate
3-point goals: I – Payton 2; Doherty. T – Davis; Villaneuva 2; Dailey.
Records: Immaculate 9-4; Torrington 6-6.