TORRINGTON >> In a fierce girls basketball struggle Monday night at Torrington High School, size, strength and court presence were Holy Cross’s ultimate answers to Torrington’s determination and drive in a 52-43 Crusader win.
Composure was a leveler for both teams.
Torrington found their composure with a three-pointer by Caroline Teti after Crusaders RaShana Siders, Kiera O’Donnell and Chelsea Houlihan built a 9-0 Holy Cross lead to start the game.
The Crusaders got their own composure back in the locker room after the Red Raiders worked all the way back to a 14-13 lead midway through the second period and a 22-20 deficit at the halftime break.
“Torrington is well-coached and they play a tough man-to-man defense,” said Crusader coach Frank Lombardo. “We settled down at the half. We were more patient and we made the extra pass.”
After Holy Cross’s initial run, the Red Raider press hassled the Crusaders into low-percentage forced shots and a lot of misses.
Both teams press hard; Torrington won the turnover battle 12-6.
The Raiders’ downfall was rebounds.
Crusader senior O’Donnell, 5-11 and sophomore Caitlin Cipriano, 5-10, led Cross to a 39-17 advantage for the game.
When the Crusaders forced shots in the first half, the rebounding advantage often just provided a string of forced layup misses.
In the second half, composure in hand, the extra shot was often crucial.
“They have two kids with great court sense,” said Torrington coach Mike Fritch. “We need to find more scoring.
Teti, the only Raider in double figures (22 points), tied the game 22-22 at the beginning of the third quarter.
She scored seven points for the period to go with a three from Paige Middleton and a layup by Kendra Covington.
On the other side, senior point guard Houlihan (17 points) tied them with 12 of the Crusaders’ 17.
Teti had 10 of Torrington’s 11 fourth-quarter points.
Houlihan and O’Donnell, the game high-scorer (26 points), needed just five of Holy Cross’s final 13.
“It helps that I can pop out and hit from the outside,” said O’Donnell, who had one of Cross’s two threes. (Houlihan had the other.)
“When I do that, it spreads the defense.”
In a game that was simply too fast for some of the younger shooters, O’Donnell’s touch, often from awkward positions, was another big feature of the Crusader game.
“I’ve been playing competitively for eight years,” she grinned. “You start getting a better feel for where the basket is. I’ve some coaches who had me close my eyes before I turned to the basket to shoot.”
“We’ve got a lot of things to fix,” said Coach Fritch.
Nevertheless, Torrington’s drive came close to seeing the Raiders through.
After Teti’s opening three-pointer put Torrington in the game, 9-3, the Raiders pushed the tempo through a 7-2 run to the end of the period.
Down just 13-10, Mia Barbieri fought for a put-back early in the second period, 13-12.
Amazingly, after the opening Crusader bulge, the Raiders were all the way back to a 14-13 lead on a five-foot bank by Teti, 6:42 left in the half.
O’Donnell kept Holy Cross in it: a three-pointer, her own put-back, a three-footer from the base line and another shot from the foul line carried her on her own 9-6 run to a 22-20 Crusader lead at the half.
In the second half, Holy Cross patience, plus a 2-1 edge in big-time scorers, won the game.
Holy Cross 52, Torrington 43
At Torrington High School
Holy Cross 13 9 17 13—52
Torrington 10 10 12 11—43
Holy Cross (52): Melissa Grocki 0-0-0; Chelsea Houlihan 5-6-17; RaShana Siders 4-0-8; Kiera O’Donnell 12-1-26; Caitlin Cipriano 0-1-1. Totals: 21-8-52.
Torrington (43): Paige Middleton 2-0-5; Caroline Teti 8-2-22; Brittany Anderson 2-0-4; Mika Howard 0-0-0; Mia Barbieri 1-0-2; Olivia Morrison 1-1-3; Taylor Howe 1-0-2; Kendra Covington 1-0-2; Brie Pergola 1-1-3. Totals: 17-4-43.
3-point goals: HC—Houlihan; O’Donnell. T—Teti 4; Middleton.
Records: Holy Cross 5-0; Torrington 3-2.