TORRINGTON — Friday night’s girls basketball game at Torrington High School between Waterbury Career Academy and Torrington could have been the Potential Bowl.
WCA won it 45-33, but the Spartans have less time to reach their promise than Torrington does. After a solid year in which they reached Class L’s second round, graduations leave Coach Stephen Barbieri starting four seniors without much if any varsity experience.
“We’re athletic, but we’re seniors, so we have to get to where we’re playing better by our 10th game, then go from there,” Barbieri said.
Coach Mike Fritch’s team has a longer leash, but it brings a whole different set of problems.
“We’re just too young and too inexperienced,” said Fritch, who starts three sophomores, with a freshman as his first girl off the bench.
The Red Raiders have just 11 girls on the team, leaving Fritch with no JVs to develop.
Part of the numbers problem comes from the lack of a Torrington middle school sports program for the last several years, but freshman Marissa Burger, the most aggressive Raider on the floor Friday, sees it in balder terms.
“(Those who don’t come out) don’t have the courage,” Burger said.
“There’s a lot to learn,” said senior Alyssa Maraia, a seasoned Torrington starter. “We have to learn as we go.”
Friday’s contest played out that way for both sides.
The Spartans used an athletic full-court press for much of the game, accumulating fouls in the process while missing many more shots than they made.
“We know how to go 150 percent on defense, but don’t know how to get to 110 percent on offense,” said Barbieri, in his fourth year with the Spartans.
Defense and four points from sophomore Jonna Pierce (8 points) carried WCA to an 8-3 first-quarter lead.
Torrington’s Burger (6 points) scrapped for a put-back for Torrington’s first points in the period’s final minute.
“We had good shots; we just didn’t make many of them,” said Fritch.
But defense, a Mike Fritch staple, proved part of Torrington’s potential as well.
The Raiders tried their own full-court press in the second quarter, pulling Torrington to a 22-15 deficit with a three-pointer by Maraia (team-high 11 points) in the final minute of the half.
In the second half, individual potential on both sides shined while the Raiders lost the half just 20-18.
Spartan senior Leila Lazaro scored 11 of her game-high 17 points in the half.
Torrington sophomore Kate Mooney kicked in for eight of her 10.
Spartan coach Barbieri hears of “a couple of (good players)” coming up at WCA.
Torrington Middle School restarted its sports program this year.
Meanwhile, both teams are certain to add substance to their potential, learning as they go.
WCA 45, TORRINGTON 33
At Torrington High School
WCA 8 17 10 10 — 45
Torrington 3 12 8 10 — 33
WCA (45): Janelle Goodman 0-2-2; Zaria Escoffery 1-0-2; Chelyse Joseph 2-0-4; Diane Samaroo 2-0-6; Taylor Dunn 2-0-6; Leila Lazaro 7-3-17; Jonna Pierce 3-0-8; Totals: 17-5-45.
Torrington (33): Marissa Burger 3-0-6; Kate Mooney 4-2-10; Alyssa Maraia 4-2-11; Madison McLaughlin 2-0-4; Allie Chiravolo 1-0-2; Totals: 14-4-33.
3-point goals: WCA — Samaroo 2; Dunn 2; Pierce 2.
Records: WCA 1-1; Torrington 0-2.