TORRINGTON – After a few sour notes in an opening loss at non-conference Newtown last week, Torrington’s boys basketball team put on a basketball symphony in a blow-out win over Holy Cross, 90-59, in its NVL season debut Tuesday night at Torrington High School.
The Red Raiders led from start to finish in a gathering crescendo of shooting, passing, running the floor and defense as four of the five Raider starters – Joel Villaneuva (25 points); Tyreek Davis (24); Kevin Dixon (14); and Dontae Thomas (14) finished in double figures.
The fifth? Coach Eric Gamari gives sophomore T.J. Calabrese much of the credit for the blend.
“We inserted T.J. at the point (after Newtown). He doesn’t need to shoot yet and we’re more athletic with him in the lineup. It lets (Davis) get up the floor,” Gamari said.
The team flowed like music in an opening quarter that vaulted to a 28-18 Torrington lead and saw production from every corner, led by nine points from Thomas and eight from Davis, setting the tone for the game.
“We lack experience; we lost everybody (to graduation),” said Holy Cross coach Ryan Olsen. “I told them what it’s like to play in Torrington. What did they hit, 60 percent of their three’s in the first quarter (nine for the game)? We had 0 percent effort and they had 110.”
“We had first-game jitters in Newtown,” said Thomas. “We know we have to put our feet on the gas pedal and keep it there. We worked it all out in practice.”
“We started pushing each other,” said Villaneuva.
“We know what we’re doing,” said Davis.
“I told them to forget the scoreboard and concentrate on getting better with each possession,” said Coach Gamari.
That happened Tuesday night. If the first quarter featured Raider shooting, the next two were a blend of running, great passing and defense that hit its highest note in the third quarter as Villanueva (8-for-10 from the foul line in a 19-for-23 team performance) led the offense with nine points while the defense stifled the Crusaders in a 22-7 goodnight finale.
Junior Akili Evans led the Crusaders with 21 points; Kyle Moser had 11.
“We’re going to get better,” said Coach Gamari, whose Raiders host Naugatuck Thursday night at 7 p.m.
TORRINGTON 90, HOLY CROSS 59
Holy Cross 19 11 7 22 – 59
Torrington 28 13 22 27 – 90
Holy Cross (59): Jack Greene 2-0-4; Kyle Moser 4-0-11; Gaely Etienne 1-0-2; Akili Evans 8-1-21; Qaron Brown 1-0-2; Alessandro Ward 1-0-2; Sam Henderlite 1-1-3; Arthur Pappas 1-0-2; Kyle Lombardi 1-3-5; Andre Stevenson 1-1-3; Corey Fappiano 2-0-4; Totals: 23-6-59.
Torrington (90): Dontae Thomas 6-1-14; Nick Balducci 1-0-3; Tyreek Davis 8-5-24; Joel Villanueva 7-8-25; Matt Rylander 0-1-1; Zach McLaughlin 2-0-4; Ben Smixth 1-0-2; Kevin Dixon 5-4-14; Adam Vanotti 1-0-3; Totals: 31-19-90.
3-point goals: HC – Moser 3; Evans 4. T – Thomas; Balducci; Davis 3; Villanueva 3; Vanotti.
Records: Holy Cross 1-1; Torrington 1-1.