Eberhardt shines as Thomaston blows by Lewis Mills
By John Nestor
THOMASTON - Maggie Eberhardt is the best player in the Berkshire League and it looks more and more like she is on the best team in the league as well.
Eberhardt poured in 29 points and the Spartans could not overcome the loss of two starters as the Bears took control of the Berkshire League race with a 66-50 victory Friday night in Thomaston.
The Bears (15-1) essentially eliminated the Spartans (11-5) from the league race while taking another step toward a second straight title. Thomaston's lone loss came to Northwestern and it appears only a game with Nonnewaug to end the regular season stands in its way to another league crown. The Chiefs have two league losses and could earn a share of the crown depending on how things shake out the rest of the month.
But for now the talk will be about Eberhardt and the Bears, who used a big third quarter to deliver a knockout punch the Spartans could not recover from.
"The program says 5-3 but Maggie Eberhardt is 10-feet tall," Thomaston coach Bob McMahon said. "She is playing so well right now. I don't think she took a bad shot, everything came in the flow of the offense."
Eberhardt's flow really came just before the half. With Mills up 29-23, Eberhardt hit a three to cut the lead to 29-26 and then another just before the horn to tie the game, 29-29. It was a boost to Eberhardt and the Bears and a blow to the Spartans, who played a valiant two quarters without starters Teagan Dunn and Lesleigh Carter.
Dunn and Carter watched in street clothes for the second straight game and Lewis Mills coach Joe Capitani was vague at best in his explanation of their absence.
"I don't really want to comment on that," Capitani said when asked why Dunn and Carter were out of the lineup. "They didn't play against Gilbert and we were prepared and they'll be back the next game."
For most of the first half the Spartans fared just fine without Dunn and Carter as they repeatedly found lanes to drive and made all three of their 3-pointers. The second half started with another Mills drive for a hoop, this one by Hope Shevchuck that gave Mills a 31-29 lead and led to a quick timeout by McMahon.
This time his message got through.
After Shevchuk made a free throw for a 32-21 lead, Thomaston went on a 14-0 run. The defense picked up and Eberhardt and Abby Hurlbut got going. After a three by Eberhardt and a basket off a steal by Hurlburt, the Bears had taken a 46-32 lead and the Spartans had run out of steam and answers.
"Our defense definitely picked up in the second half," Eberhardt said. "We had to cut off the drives and help on defense. After the timeout coach really pushed to cut off the drives and we did that."
Hulrbert added 21 for Thomaston, which didn't have another player with more than seven points.
Natalie Ruel led Lewis Mills with 17, Cassidy Lockwood had 11 (all in the first half) and Shevchuk scored 10 before leaving in the third quarter with a knee injury.
"It looks like everythig is going to be alright," Capitani said of Shevchuck. "I don't think it's as serious as she first thought it was going to be."
The game started with 3-pointers by Ruel and Hurlbert and kept up a pretty good pace for most of the first half. Mills led by as many as five in the first quarter but Eberhardt cut it to 17-16 with a basket at the horn.
In the second Mills went up six but Eberhardt had the answer for that as well and it launched Thomaston into a big second half.
"That was just Maggie being Maggie," Capitani said. "I'm glad she's a senior."