FARMINGTON >> For every classic boys basketball game, there’s a heartbreak.
Monday evening, in the first round of the Class L boys basketball tournament, the heartbreak belonged to No. 22 Torrington (12-11).
The Red Raiders led by six points midway through the final period against No. 11 Farmington. The Indians caught up in the final minute; Torrington got the lead back on a foul shot with 23 seconds left. Then 6-foot-7 Farmington senior Obi Momah came outside, winning the game with a three-point bank off the backboard as the buzzer blared, 58-56.
“In the 16 years I’ve been coaching here, that’s one of the best games we’ve ever had in this gym,” said Farmington coach Duane Witter. “I told (Torrington coach Eric Gamari), ‘You guys won the game. We just had one more shot.’ It’s too bad somebody had to lose.”
The shot was good enough to make ESPN’s SportsCenter Top 10. It came in at No. 7 during the 11 p.m. show.
“That was, by far, the most clutch shot I’ve ever had in a game,” said Momah, a senior headed for Division I Maris next year.
“We played very well,” Gamari said. “For 31-plus minutes, we played a very good post defense against Obi (16 points, two 3s). For 31-plus minutes, we did fine.”
That’s the way the Red Raiders played it from the beginning.
The word on Farmington was, “They’re big and they like to slow it down.”
Torrington’s plan was run and shoot, then play a post defense on Momah learned in action against Sacred Heart.
Momah, with bookend game shots in the making, scored the game’s first points, a turn-around five-footer on the baseline.
Zak Mancini (13 points) answered with an outside dagger, 2-2; then John McCarthy (team-high 20 points) struck beyond the arc, 5-2, Torrington.
Momah had a Farmington lead back with a three.
Mitch Zagrodnik (15 points), Connor Finn and McCarthy began an almost perfect Torrington foul-shooting night (14-for-16) with five straight for another Raider lead, 10-8.
The Indians worked back on top, 14-10. Then both teams showed off different weapons.
Farminton starter Trey Witter (game-high 26 points), a junior, hit the first of three threes.
Torrington freshman Dom Sabia came off the bench for more power underneath and the first of three put-backs.
“They’re strong and they forced us out of our spots,” said Coach Witter, praising work by Sabia, Desmond Langs and Zagrodnik underneath.
“My teammates did a fantastic job of getting me the ball,” said Witter, who’s dad brought him to practices as soon as he could walk. By fourth grade, he was out-shooting some of the varsity players.
Farmington led 19-14 after the first quarter, 31-30 at the half.
“I thought it would be this way,” said Coach Gamari.
The Raiders shook loose for fast breaks in the third — Zagrodnik, Mancini and McCarthy — building their biggest lead, 42-37.
The Raiders led 44-41 at the end of three.
The final duel began.
Momah hit from the baseline. McCarthy raced for a layup off a great pass from Zagrodnik.
McCarthy, two more foul shots, 48-43. Witter three; McCarthy three-point play, 51-46, Torrington, 4:45 left.
Momah on the baseline again. Mancini at the foul line. Witter, three pointer, 53-51.
With two minutes left, Farmington’s Jayson Martin tied the score with a foul-line jumper.
McCarthy and Witter traded two more foul shots apiece (the Indians were 11-for-14), 55-55.
Twenty-three seconds left. Torrington Langs sinks a foul shot for the lead.
The seconds tick off in a trip to heartbreak and glory, the signature of a classic.
Farmington goes to No. 6 E.O. Smith for the quarterfinal round Wednesday.
No. 11 Farmington 58, No. 22 Torrington 56
At Farmington High School
Torrington 14 16 14 12—56
Farmington 19 12 10 17—58
Torrington (56): Zak Mancini 6-0-13; John McCarthy 6-7-20; Connor Finn 0-1-1; Jason Vinisko 0-0-0; Mitch Zagrodnik 5-5-15; Desmond Langs 0-1-1; Dom Sabia 3-0-6; Totals: 20-14-56.
Farmington (58): Jayson Martin 2-2-6; Sean Dunleavy 0-0-0; Austin Browne 0-0-0; Obi Momah 7-0-16; Colin Cheeseman 3-2-8; Drew Labbadia 0-0-0; Trey Witter 8-8-26; Bobby Raus 1-0-2; Totals: 21-11-58.
3-point goals: T—Mancini; McCarthy. F—Momah 2; Witter 3.
Records: Torrington 12-11; Farmington 15-6.