TORRINGTON >> Sacred Heart’s 95-71 winning margin at Torrington Saturday night might be close to what fans expected, but the way the Hearts got there wasn’t.
Never mind that the 24-point margin was second closest of the year to Holy Cross’s 22-point loss to the Hearts, ranked No. 3 in this week’s GameTimeCt state poll.
Late in the first quarter, the Red Raiders actually led 14-12 after a three by Dontae Thomas (13 points, 3/3s).
With 43 seconds left in the half, Sacred Heart’s margin was just four, 40-36, after another Thomas three.
“(Torrington Coach Eric Gamari’s) kids shot the lights out in the first half,” said Sacred Heart Coach Jon Carroll.
“We’re coming,” said Gamari. “I think we’re a very good team. I see improvement every game.”
“We’re a team of energy,” said sophomore forward Joel Villanueva, surprising the Hearts all night inside and outside for a team-high 24 points. “When it’s up, we’re good.”
Torrington goes 10 deep this year, so running with the Hearts wasn’t a problem. The difference came in rebounding. Most of the Hearts can rebound;
Torrington’s rebounders had to stay on the floor longer than usual.
“In the second half, they killed us on the boards,” said Gamari.
“We played at our pace,” said Carroll. “Ninety-five points is a lot for anybody. I think we gassed them.”
Torrington forward Jordan Henneberry was a force offensively and defensively in the first half, along with Villanueva, for eight of his 13 points.
Villanueva’s biggest quarter was the third, with 12 points, but the fourth quarter was one too many for the Raiders.
Heart forwards Omar Rowe (25 points) and Raheem Solomon (game-high 28 points) were active all game, but the rim belonged to them for much of the second half.
Nevertheless, if there’s a good 24-point loss, this was it.
“If we keep our heads up and push harder, we’re going to be good,” said Villanueva.
Most people in Torrington’s gym Saturday night would agree.
Sacred Heart 95, Torrington 71
At Torrington High School
Sacred Heart 16 27 27 25 – 95
Torrington 14 22 20 15 – 71
Sacred Heart (95): Courie Stevenson 3-0-7; Legend Johnson 1-5-7; Omar Rowe 11-3-25; Isiah Gaiter 8-0-16; Raheem Solomon 9-8-28; Mikey West 4-1-10; Peyton Stephens 1-0-2; Totals: 37-17-95.
Torrington (71): Andrew Languell 1-1-3; Richy Rodriguez 1-0-2; Tyreek Davis 2-0-6; Nick Dalla Valle 2-0-5; Dontae Thomas 5-0-13; Joel Villanueva 11-0-24; Jordan Henneberry 4-4-13; Stephon Dailey 1-0-3; Hunter Murphy 0-0-0; Adrian Gonzalez 1-0-2; Totals: 28-5-71.
Halftime Score: 43-36 Sacred Heart
3-point goals: SH – Stevenson; Solomon 2; West. T – Davis 2; Dalla Valle; Thomas 3; Villanueva 2; Henneberry; Dailey.
Records: Sacred Heart 6-0; Torrington 4-4.