TORRINGTON >> Torrington’s boys basketball team (9-8) had a glorious regular-season home finale in a 69-40 mauling of Naugatuck (9-8) Monday night at Torrington High School.
Both teams came to the Connie Donahue Gymnasium hungry for a win.
The Greyhounds needed one more win in their last four games to qualify for the state tournament.
Torrington coach Eric Gamari figures the Red Raiders needed two more wins to get into the eight-team NVL Tournament (division winners plus the next six top teams).
The Raiders came out ravenous for their prize.
“They played better than we did, top to bottom,” said Naugatuck coach Mike Wilson. “They wanted it more.”
“Tonight, we had eight guys playing on the same page,” said Coach Gamari.
First-quarter energy was high on both sides, rocking too fast for accuracy in the first two minutes.
Torrington’s John McCarthy (9 points) broke the ice on a five-foot bank.
Dayvon Russell answered with a three.
It looked like well-matched teams would battle to the wire. Torrington came in with a slightly better record. Naugauck had the distinction of beating Wilby in overtime last week.
It played that way for another few minutes.
Mitch Zagrodnik (16 points) took the lead back with a three-point play for Torrington, 5-3.
Then Jerry Aguero finished a telling series for the Raiders, with a put-back in Torrington’s fourth chance at the basket in one possession.
Neither team has great height. The Raiders won the battles.
“We did a great job of boxing out tonight,” said Gamari. “We’ve been doing a lot of 2-on-2 and 3-on-3 drills and it paid off.”
Naugy closed to 7-6, then Zak Mancini (game-high 18 points) chimed in with his first bucket, a drive up the middle.
Connor Finn (8 points) and Victor Diaz (9 points) got on board.
By the end of the quarter, Torrington cruised into a 15-11 lead.
The Greyhounds tried a full-court press in the second period. Torrington guards ripped through it.
Diaz scored the first four points of the period, on a great pass from McCarthy and his own put-back.
McCarthy bombed from outside.
Greyhound C.J. Wall (team-high 13 points) stopped the Raider flood with a fast break.
Torrington was back with two Mancini three’s in a row.
At 28-13, 2:23 left in the first half, the Greyhounds were all done.
The Raider offense clicked, everybody crashed the boards and Torrington’s defense was a nightmare for Naugatuck.
“Our defense was much better (than it has been),” said Gamari. “We’re playing as a unit.”
Each team finishes the season in a three-game finale that would test any team in the state.
First, they face each other again, at Naugatuck Wednesday.
The Greyhounds go on to Holy Cross and league-leading Crosby.
Torrington gets Sacred Heart and Wilby.
“I’m disappointed,” said Naugatuck coach Wilson. “This wasn’t the team I’ve been seeing all season.”
Torrington coach Gamari and his Raiders, going the other way on Monday, stand ready for the tournaments.
Torrington 69, Naugatuck 40
At Torrington High School
Naugatuck 11 7 13 9—40
Torrington 15 17 21 16—69
Naugatuck (40): Jason Bradley 1-1-3; Ryne Griesenhauer 1-0-2; Dayvon Russell 5-0-11; Maleek Brooks 1-0-2; Bryan Coney 1-0-2; C.J. Wall 4-5-13; Jourdan Hopkins 0-0-0; Dashon Russell 2-0-5; Jordan Booker 1-0-2; Fejiro Onakporna 0-0-0; Josh Aviles 0-0-0; Kevin Robinson 0-0-0; Totals: 16-6-40.
Torrington (69): Victor Diaz 4-1-9; Zak Mancini 3-4-18; Stephon Dailey 0-0-0; Jerry Aguero 1-0-2; John McCarthy 3-2-9; Connor Finn 4-0-8; Jason Vinisko 1-0-3; Mich Zagrodnik 7-2-16; Spencer Mourges 0-0-0; Desmond Langs 1-0-2; Tim Consodine 1-0-2; Totals: 28-9-69.
3-point goals: N—Day. Russell; Das. Russell. T—Mancini 2; McCarthy; Vinisko.
Records: Naugatuck 7-10; Torrington 9-8.