Torrington, Gil­bert get a glimpse at the fu­ture

The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT) - - SPORTS - By Pe­ter Wal­lace

WIN­STED — The Torrington and Gil­bert girls bas­ket­ball teams scrim­maged at The Gil­bert School Thurs­day af­ter­noon in a chance to look at the two area teams as well as the coaches’ view of their leagues — the NVL and Berk­shire League.

With four of last years’ Gil­bert starters re­turn­ing as se­niors, the Yel­low­jack­ets could be one of the BL con­tenders this year, though Coach Gerry Hicks calls de­fend­ing league cham­pion North­west­ern and Lewis Mills the fa­vorites “with the rest of us chas­ing them.”

Torrington is on the other end of the scale in the NVL with Coach Mike Fritch’s assess­ment that his Red Raiders will be on the bot­tom with “maybe one other team” and “the usual teams on top,” in­clud­ing de­fend­ing cham­pion Sa­cred Heart, Holy Cross and St. Paul Catholic.

Through eight 10-minute quar­ters, mix­ing var­sity and JV play­ers Thurs­day, each team showed glimpses of the near and not-so-near fu­ture.

Gil­bert had the edge through most of the quar­ters, but the lack of last year’s key player — grad­u­ated BL scor­ing leader Liz Wexler (15.1 ppg) — showed up on of­fense in the lack of stand­out shoot­ers.

“We have to play bet­ter de­fense to over­come the loss of 15 points,” Hicks said.

Quick­ness and de­fense stood out against the Raiders, par­tially on its own

merit and par­tially in an ex­po­sure of Torrington’s youth.

The Red Raiders have just three se­niors and two ju­niors, along with four sopho­mores and two fresh­men on their 11-girl squad, rep­re­sent­ing good news and bad news.

“It’s the first year we haven’t had a JV team, fol­low­ing the first year we haven’t made the state tour­na­ment (5-15 last year),” said

Fritch, in his 26th year as coach.

The good news is the in­creased ath­leti­cism the un­der­class­men bring over last year. The bad news is the time it will take to ma­ture at the var­sity level.

“Af­ter the first half of the sea­son, we’ll be al­right,” Fritch said. “I think we’ll win more games than we did last year.”

Both teams lack height; re­bound­ing might be their big­gest chal­lenge.

Hicks, whose team made it to the Class S quar­ter­fi­nals last year (14-10), hopes

quick­ness and hard play will come to the res­cue for his Yel­low­jack­ets — and, sure enough, it worked against Torrington.

“We want to over­come lack of height with de­sire,” Hicks said. “We think we can re­bound.”

The true tests be­gin next week on the road with the start of the reg­u­lar sea­son.

The Yel­low­jack­ets will try out their re­bound­ing de­sire against “a cou­ple of six­foot­ers” at Thomas­ton. Torrington goes to Kennedy to be­gin its ex­pe­ri­ence les­sons for the un­der­class­men.

Be­sides Hicks’ picks for the BL’s top two fin­ish­ers, the league holds other chal­lenges, in­clud­ing Wamogo, which brings some size back from its own Class S quar­ter­fi­nal run last year; Housatonic, “the real ques­tion mark,” los­ing im­por­tant ta­lent to grad­u­a­tion, but bring­ing in new ath­leti­cism; and Shep­aug, “maybe a year away,” with strong ta­lent.

Torrington faces its own all-star gaunt­let, with the top three along with the pos­si­ble ad­di­tion of Sey­mour.

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