Bears heading back to Mohegan.
SOUTHBURY: One play, in the third quarter of a game they were winning going away, best summed up why the Thomaston girls are going back to Mohegan Sun for a remarkable fourth straight year.
With her team up 44-20 over Kolbe Cathedral, senior standout Morgan Sanson appeared to turn the ball over when pressured by a pair of Cougar defenders.
The ball slipped out of Sanson’s hands and into the hands of a Kolbe defender but before you knew it, Sanson had ripped the ball back and found Samantha Brostek all alone under the basket for another two points.
Of course she did. That’s the Golden Bears way.
You simply cannot underestimate, and I think the rest of the state is getting used to the fact, that it will take a herculean effort to put this Bears team away or to even win a majority of any basketball they think they can get their hands on.
It’s their ball, you can just borrow at the start of a possession (by rule) but don’t count on them not trying to take it right back.
Sanson scored 20 points while junior Casey Carangelo added 19 as the school that may soon have a suite named after them in Uncasville made fast work of the Cougars in an impressive 59-37 final in the Class S semi-finals.
It’s off to Mohegan Sun for a rematch of last year’s Class S title game with the Canton Warrriors on Saturday or Sunday.
The Bears won a thriller a year ago, 52-50 after beating St Paul in overtime the year before, 61-57.
There have been times over each of the last four seasons that you thought the run might come to an end, that the magic formula head Coach Bob McMahon and this marvelous group of players that may not always come away with an award for smooth play, but more times than not comes away with the win.
The Cougars had cruised through their first three games, winning the three by 21, 43 and 41 respectively but had zero answers for the Bears relentless pursuit of the basketball when Kolbe had it.
“We needed to lock down our defense.” Hurlbert said. “The defense won the game for us, we just had to keep pushing.”
It was apparent early that the Bears had the advantage of size inside so getting the ball inside was critical and Thomaston pounded the ball into Carangelo or drove at will on the smaller Cougar defenders.
With her voice gone, the senior who is the heart and soul of this team, talked about what it took to get back the finals again.
“I think we came out strong to begin with.” Sanson said. ”I think we came out quick and strong and just wanted it more.”
Three Cougar starters, Gracen Kerr, Trinity Bravo and Beatrice Weaver had combined to score 63 in their quarterfinal win over Westbrook, a 76-37 rout.
Against the stingy Bear defense though, the trio combined for just 31 with most of their damage done after Thomaston had built a 34-15 halftime lead.
Kolbe did their best to ramp up the defensive pressure with traps but Hurlbert, the lefty point guard, was more than up to the task along with Julia Quinn who spent time at the point as well.
When the Bears offense is on, it is a thing of beauty to watch with cuts and crisp passes leading to easy buckets.
It’s not supposed to be this easy this late in the states but Thomaston always seems to pick up their game at just the right time.
The Cougars never really made a run in this one after going down after one and never got the lead back down under double digits again.
The Pomperaug High School gym was pretty much filled on Monday night with eight percent of the fans rooting for the Bears.
Hey, this is the town that sends their kids off with a parade through town and has gotten really good at it over the past four years.
Off to the Sun again.
There is no truth to the rumor though, that the Bears can longer play at Mohegan because it has become their home court after playing there the past three seasons.
Thomaston/Canton II. Should be fun.