TORRINGTON — After a blowout win over Holy Cross Tuesday, Torrington’s boys basketball team proved it can also win the tight ones in a 47-46 squeaker over Naugatuck Thursday night at Torrington High School.
While the Red Raiders couldn’t miss in Tuesday’s first quarter before racing to 90 points against the Crusaders, Thursday was a different story.
Greyhound 6-foot-4 widebody freshman Avery Hinant blocked two Torrington shots underneath in the first four minutes, throwing a huge roadblock in the flowing offense that carried much of Tuesday’s Torrington performance. And, unlike Tuesday, when everybody hit their first-quarter shots, the Raiders started cold from the outside.
The combination allowed a fast, athletic Naugatuck team to run out to an 11-5 lead at the end of the period behind seven of Jean Lukau’s nine points for the game.
Enter Torrington junior Nick Balducci. The 5-foot-8 guard hit two of his four three’s for the game in the first two minutes of the second quarter, igniting Torrington shooters for five treys for the period and a 19-11 advantage in the quarter, ultimately spelling the point difference for the game.
“When Nick comes in, it’s instant energy,” said Torrington coach Eric Gamari.
“All my teammates have confidence in me,” said Balducci (12 points).
Thursday, it worked both ways as Tyreek Davis (10 points), Joel Villanueva and Adam Vanotti joined Balducci with three-point shooting that carried the Raiders to a 24-22 lead at the half.
But the battle was far from over, shifting underneath for much of the rest of the game. Naugatuck edged the Raiders 14-13 in the third quarter behind Hinant’s five points (11 for the game), but Torrington center Kevin Dixon (14 points), a thinner 6-4 than Hinant, scored six points while starting to tip the edge on blocks and rebounds with his quickness.
Torrington started the fourth quarter with a 37-36 when every shot was crucial, hit or miss.
Once again, Balducci took the reins, with his final three, but now Dixon’s quickness was the perfect complement, extending the Raider lead to 42-36 with a 10-foot turn-around jumper.
Naugy’s Keywan Garris brought it back with a three, 42-39, and the final volley was on: Torrington’s Davis sank a five-foot bank; Greyhound Derrick Jagello hit from the baseline; Dixon cut sharply for an inbounding layup, 46-41 with 37 seconds left.
The Raiders missed a chance to put it away on a one-and-one foul call. Naugatuck’s Gwayne Fisher took advantage with a three-point play on a layup, 46-44, 13 seconds left.
Dontae Thomas made a foul shot with 11 seconds left, down to a final three-point try by the Greyhounds for the tie with 10 seconds on the clock. The shot went up, Hinnant got the rebound and banked it in…a point short at the buzzer.
“It’s always a battle with (Torrington),” said Naugatuck coach Mike Wilson.
“We’re only three weeks into the season,” said Coach Gamari. “At times we look good; at times, it’s ‘Uh, oh,’”
The Raiders, 2-1, travel to 0-3 Seymour tonight; the Greyhounds, 1-2, are at 1-1 Derby.
TORRINGTON 47, NAUGATUCK 46
Naugatuck 11 11 14 10 — 46
Torrington 5 19 13 10 — 47
Naugatuck (46): Derrick Jagello 3-0-6; Gwayne Fisher 2-1-5; Jean Lukau 4-0-9; Avery Hinnant 5-1-11; Robert Sanders 2-3-7; Keywan Garris 3-0-8; Totals: 19-5-46.
Torrington (47): Dontae Thomas 0-1-1; Nick Balducci 4-0-12; Tyreek Davis 4-1-10; Joel Villanueva 1-2-5; Zach McLaughlin 1-0-2; Kevin Dixon 7-0-14; Adam Vanotti 1-0-3; Totals: 18-4-47.
3-point goals: N — Lukau; Garris 2. T — Balducci 4; Davis; Villaneuva; Vanotti.
Records: Naugatuck 1-2; Torrington 2-1.