LITCHFIELD — NVL boys basketball suburban power Torrington ventured into the Berkshire League Monday night and found the going much tougher than expected in a 63-51 win at Litchfield High School.
Both teams came off Friday night blowouts in their leagues. The Red Raiders (6-3; 5-2 NVL) thrashed Oxford by 40 points. The Cowboys (4-5; 4-3 BL) lost by almost that much to undefeated Wamogo.
So though who expected another Torrington blowout at Litchfield: It didn’t happen.
“We came out ready to play,” Litchfield coach Dan Goscinski said. “They’re a bigger school than we are, so we had nothing to lose. I told my guys, ‘We’re five high school guys, they’re five high school guys.”
By the end of the first quarter, Litchfield’s five guys were three points better than Torrington’s, 18-15.
Cowboy Evan Fischtal (game-high 19 points) poured in eight points; Tripp Melk (15 points) had a pair of 3s; and sophomore forward Zajans Crapo seemed to own every rebound.
Torrington’s C.J. Root (10 points) and Zach McLaughlin kept the Raiders alive with three 3’s, but Litchfield’s lead was no fluke.
“They played hard; we just stood around,” said Torrington coach Eric Gamari.
The Red Raiders missed a couple of key players and Gamari played several new faces, but guard Dontae Thomas’s absence was Torrington’s biggest loss. Thomas, sitting out with an ankle sprain he rolled Friday, revs the Raider engine several notches when he’s on the floor and Torrington goes from good to very good when they run.
Nevertheless, Torrington’s defense heated up in the second quarter. Nick Balducci tied the score on a 3-pointer in the first minute; Ben Smith took the Raider lead with a layup. Root blocked a Litchfield shot and made a steal in two successive plays and the Red Raiders were off.
Torrington ran off 11 straight points in the quarter, ending in a Zach McLaughlin fast break finish on a great pass from Root.
Jared Guilmart and Melk scored for Litchfield in the half’s final minute, but Torrington reversed the first-quarter score to 26-22, Raiders, at the half.
“They found another level,” said Goscinski.
Still, the Cowboys hung on.
Finding their offensive stride, Torrington’s Joel Villanueva scored all 12 of his points in the second half; Tyreek Davis (team-high 14 points) kept his stream going with eight and T.J. Clabrese battled for six of his eight points in the final period.
The Cowboys stayed close with three of their eight 3s for the game in the third period and three more in the fourth.
Midway through the fourth quarter, a Guilmart 3 drew the Cowboys back to a 10-point deficit. With a minute left, Fischtal’s 3 gave Litchfield hope at 61-49. But time and the pace were on Torrington’s side.
“I’m never happy with a loss,” said Goscinski, with a right to be proud of his Cowboys.
“We’re going to have to play better against Watertown (Wednesday night at Torrington),” said Gamari.
TORRINGTON 63, LITCHFIELD 51
Tyreek Davis 6-2-14; Joel Villanueva 4-4-12; T.J. Calabrese 3-2-8; C.J. Root 4-0-10; Matt Rylander 1-0-2; Zach McLaughlin 3-0-7; Ben Smith 1-0-2; Nick Balducci 3-0-8; Totals: 25-8-63.
Luke Parsons 1-0-3; Tom Brady 1-0-3; Tripp Milk 4-4-15; Jared Guilmart 3-0-7; Matt Rousseau 1-0-3; Ajani Campbell 0-1-1; Evan Fischtal 7-4-19; Totals: 17-9-51.
TORRINGTON 15 11 18 19 — 63
LITCHFIELD 18 4 14 15 — 51
3-point goals: T – Root 2; McLaughlin; Balducci 2. L – Parsons; Brady; Melk 3; Guilmart; Rouseau; Fischtal.
Records: Torrington 6-3; 5-2 NVL. Litchfield 4-5; 4-3 BL.