TORRINGTON — Naugatuck, No. 10 in this week’s GameTimeCT/New Haven Register boys basketball state poll, showed its stuff in a 76-52 win over Torrington at Torrington High School Friday night.
All eight of those who played for the undefeated Greyhounds (13-0; 11-0 NVL) put the ball in the hoop, four of them for double figures. Torrington (4-9; 4-7 NVL) did a great job scrapping for rebounds, but, ultimately, Naugatuck’s size and quickness won that battle as well.
Most of all, the Greyhounds showed the kind of energy that only comes when a team enjoys playing with each other. And with talent to spare on the court, why wouldn’t they?
“It was kind of a tough game in the sense that it came right after our big game with Holy Cross Tuesday (72-60 Greyhounds) in front of a packed house,” said Naugatuck coach Mike Wilson. “So I was happy they came out with a lot of energy tonight. Those guys really like each other.”
“It’s fun sharing the ball,” said super-athletic 6-foot-6 inch sophomore center Avery Hinnant. “We’ve got good chemistry.”
Talent and youth are clearly a good mix. Coach Wilson starts two seniors, a junior and two sophomores. Of those, junior Robert Sanders slashed and defended for a game-high 20 points; Hinnant followed with dazzling moves to the basket and a light shooting touch with 17; senior Garris was the outside man with 13 points, going 3 for 3 on his initial first-half tries outside. Senior Derrick Jagello was a workhorse inside for 10 points, many of them putbacks.
For all that talent and glory on the other side, Torrington had its moments as well. Coming off another tough loss at Waterbury Career Academy Tuesday, coach Eric Gamari devised a first-quarter delay strategy that threatened to keep the game close.
“The idea was to work the ball around in a delay, but, if you see an opportunity, take it,” Gamari said.
For the game’s first seven minutes, the strategy worked to a tee. With under a minute left in the period, Justin Mattiello drained a 3 from the corner, tying the score 9-9.
Then the Greyhound rockets lit up. Garris answered with a corner 3 of his own. Sanders stole the ball and sank a pair of foul shots. Hennant finished off with a steal, a dunk and a drive to the basket, surging to 18-9 in less than a minute.
“The kids saw the scoreboard and we had to get back to our regular things,” said Gamari.
That included 14 points from workhorse guard Brian Ballesteros, a virtuoso performance by center Mohamed Traore, scoring 14 points while working against Hennant and 10 more from guard Charlie Mathieu.
Nevertheless, once the fuse was lit, the Greyhounds rolled — to a 37-17 lead at the half and 63-31 after three quarters.
The Greyhounds finish the regular season with back-to-back games against league powers Sacred Heart and Crosby as a great testing ground for NVL and Division II hopes.
Torrington, with two starters out with injuries, comes together for a run at Division II qualifying, needing four wins in its final seven regular-season games.