TORRINGTON >> Starting their seasons at opposite ends of boys basketball blowouts, Waterbury Career Academy and Torrington played to the wire Thursday before WCA pulled away to a 68-58 win on foul shots in the final minute at Torrington High School.
In their official debut in the NVL, the Spartans dropped 11 threes in the first half at Oxford on their way to a 95-70 win while Crosby drubbed Torrington 89-63 in Waterbury.
“We start out with three suburban schools and we’re just taking them one at a time before looking at the Waterbury schools,” said WCA Coach Ronan O’Leary. “We knew it would be tough up here.”
The Spartan pace proved they’re one of the Waterbury schools from the beginning Thursday while the Red Raiders still looked shell-shocked from Crosby.
Outside shots weren’t falling at Torrington, but Spartan foul shots were. More telling, the Raiders, trying to keep up the pace, hurried layup misses or lost control altogether.
Down 6-0, Jordan Henneberry scored Torrington’s first points on a pair of foul shots three minutes into the game.
Dontae Thomas hit the first Raider field goal almost two minutes later, a three.
The WCA lead was just 10-5. Torrington found its legs and its own quickness with a baseline drive by Henneberry and a layup by Joel Villanueva.
Waterbury Career led 15-9 at the end of the first quarter; the battle raged from then on.
Sophomore guard Matt Torres came alive for eight of WCA’s 10 points in the second quarter.
Junior guard Hunter Murphy had eight of Torrington’s 13.
WCA led by just three at the half, 25-22.
Richy Rodriguez erased that with a three to start the third period. With 3:25 left in the quarter, Torrington grabbed the lead 34-33 with a shot from the corner by Joel Villanueva.
“This is a feisty bunch,” grinned Torrington Coach Eric Gamari. “Our zone’s getting better and we’re starting to play together.”
The Raiders rotated nine players to keep the motor running with the Spartans through the fourth quarter, though WCA clung to a one and two-point lead until
Torrington’s Stephon Dailey closed it with a foul shot to 59-58 WCA, 58 seconds left.
If Waterbury Career wasn’t as deadly from outside as they were at Oxford, they made up for it by drawing fouls and sinking them.
Up to these final seconds, they missed just four of 21 tries at the line.
Game-high scorer Marquan Watson had 13 of his 22 points from the line on 13-for-15 shooting.
Now, with Torrington pressing and missing its own shots, Marquan, Jaylen Edwards and Kyren Petteway went 8-for-9 on the foul line for the final margin.
“We were relieved when we won,” said Coach O’Leary.
“The heart was there; the effort was there,” said Coach Gamari.
Waterbury Career Academy 68, Torrington 58
At Torrington High School
WCA 15 10 18 25 – 68
Torrington 9 13 16 20 – 58
WCA (68): Jaden Battle 4-1-12; Kyren Petteway 2-2-8; Matt Torres 4-3-13; Jalen Edwards 2-6-11; Marquan Watson 5-13-22; Jessah Doctor 1-0-2; Totals: 18-25-68.
Torrington (58): Richy Rodriguez 1-0-3; Tyreek Davis 3-0-6; Nick Dalla Valle 1-0-2; Dontae Thomas 1-0-3; Joel Villanueva 4-1-10; Jordan Henneberry 4-4-12; Stephon Dailey 5-1-11; Hunter Murphy 4-0-11; Adrian Gonzalez 0-0-0; Totals: 23-6-58.
Half-time score: 25-22 WCA
3-point goals: WCA – Battle; Petteway 2; Torres 2; Edwards; Watson. T – Davis; Thomas; Villanueva; Murphy 3.
Records: Waterbury Career Academy 2-0; Torrington 0-2.