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2013 Year in Review. April. Thomaston's Amy Matthews joins Geno in Hall of Fame

POSTED December 20, 2013
BY Rick Wilson
Twitter: @scribewilson


 

                                                      Amy, Geno and Chris

 

           HAMDEN – Amy, Geno and Chris. That’s all you need to know about the basketball skills of former Thomaston High and Western Connnecticut State Univeristy great Amy Matthews. You don’t need the scoring numbers, the three-point totals, the championships. Oh, we’ll give them to you because they are part of the story. But you don’t really need them.

            Amy Matthews was inducted into the Connecticut Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Wednesday night at the Cascade in Hamden. So were Geno, whose last name happens to be Auriemma and Chris, last name of Dailey, who along with Geno makes up the most successful duo in women’s college basketball today and probably yesterday for that matter.

            What else do you need to know? Matthews wasn’t there to watch or take pictures. She was there to be honored with the best of the best. She wasn’t out in the crowd of several hundred, she was at the head table on equal footing. Who’s better than Geno and Chris? Stratospheric company. Matthews was that good folks.

            Will give you those numbers, but you don’t need really need them. A two-time All-Stater at Thomaston High from 1990-94, she scored 1,565 career points, leaving as the second leading scorer all-time and top girls scorer.

            Along the way, she led the Bears to an amazing three straight appearances in the Class S championship game and the state title in 1993, when she won the MVP award.  It would have been enough for any kid’s scrapbook. Most would kill to have those numbers, those moments.

            It was just the beginning. She took her game to Western Connecticut and coach Jody Rajcula and while the team and town changed, the game didn’t. It was still brilliant. The point total didn’t move. Matthews left Danbury with 1, 565 points, the exact number she had in high school. Good enough to make her second on the Western Connecticut all-time list.

            Matthews finished her career in the top 10 in six offensive categories. She was third in three-pointers with 146, made free throws with 303 and career field goals with 558.

            In 1996-’97, Matthews was named to the NCAA’s Sweet 16 team. She was a three-time Little East first-team selection. In 2011 she was named to the Little East Conference’s 25th Anniversary Team and inducted in the Western Connecticut State University Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

            Man, those numbers and accomplishments are sweet. But all you needed to know that two seats to her left was sitting Geno Aueriemma and two more seats down was Chris Dailey. All on equal footing this night.

            Matthews has always been the gregarious ones. In the Thomaston world she is one of the ‘big three’ that lit up the courts and fields during a fabulous decade (1984-`94). There was the elegant Lisa Hurlbert who didn’t really like the spotlight that came with here immense talents. She is in the Connecticut Women’s Softball Hall of Fame and an All-Stater in basketball.

            Then along came Heather Boguslaswski. With a superb skill set and a bit of an athletic chip on her shoulder. All-State in three sports. Then came Matthews. Smiling’, outgoing, competitive, ready to rock and roll.

            And rock and roll she did. The tangible was always evident. She could play. Anything. She holds the record with Hurlbert for strikeouts in a softball game with 17. There was always game.

            Ah, but the heart. In a well-documented story. Matthews developed an eating disorder her senior year that did not allow her digest food. There was a lot trying to eat and cleaning up after when the food decided to come back up.

            Thomaston coaches Paul Ebbs and Bill Ryan will tell you stories about the 5-foot-9 or so solid kid who lost 40 to 50 lbs. and melted away to about 110 pounds her senior year, her legs almost like matchsticks compared to her junior year.  They watched as Matthews willed herself to play and her team often to victory. They watched as Matthews fed herself with a tube at halftime of state tournament games.

            During her speech, Matthews talked about her mantra – “You can have the ability, you can have the brain, but without heart you don’t have game.”

            Matthews had heart and game and her senior season in high school was an impressively memorable drama of both.

            Western helped Matthews get back on track with guiding hand of Rajcula playing a major role. She was good enough to play D-1, she could have played D-1. She chose Western and Rajcula. It was loyalty and a decision she has never regretted. The Western experience was a great one.

            Wednesday night was Matthews’ night. She was elegant in black dress and justifiably carried the pride of Hall of Famer. An amazingly talented and close family, the Matthews clan was on hand and it meant as much to Matthews as the honor. They were the honor.

            Mom and dad (John and Eloise), brother John and sister Katie, both of whom are 1,000-point scorers, as noted by Matthews in her short acceptance speech, reveled in the night and Matthews reveled in them.

            She beamed when being introduced, beamed throughout dinner and beamed after dinner. She engaged Geno in a little banter about whether the rim should be lowered for girls. Geno says yes, Amy says no. No back down on either side.

            “Tonight was truly one of the best accomplishments of my life. Thank-you to my parents, brother and sister and Trent (boyfriend Randall). You guys are truly my biggest fans,” said Matthews on her Facebook posting the day after.

            It has been a great run for Matthews, a Hall of Fame race for the kid Rajcula first saw wearing black sneakers. For the kid who liked playing basketball with the boys better than the girls and still will appear in MEN’s over-30 league basketball game.

            There are championships, points, awards, more than one scrapbook can hold. But all you need to know was that on Wednesday night she sat with Geno and Chris (and some other very deserving recipients).

            They judge you by the company you keep. Amy, you have been judged. It is one heck of a verdict.     

             

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