Golden Bears and Falcons ready to slug it out
THOMASTON – So here we go. There is nothing else to say. Throw the ball up and let’s get it going.
No. 1 St. Paul vs. No. 3 Thomaston. NVL and BL. Catholic and public. Thomaston coach Bob McMahon and his niece St. Paul guard Kelly McMahon. St. Paul Principal and former Thomaston High baseball coach and resident Cary DuPont.
So many sidelights and pieces of intrigue. But after you wade through all the fascination more than anything else this is about two really good basketball teams ready to slug it out for Class S supremacy at Mohegan Sun at 3 p.m.
One team will go home disappointed but it is a game that can’t disappoint. The only letdown would be if somehow the final margin of this game is more than razor thin. This one has all the ingredients for an ending that will send chills and thrills up the spine and throughout the body.
“If both teams play as well as they can this is going to be a good one,’ said Thomaston coach Bob McMahon.
“I picture it to be a pretty good game,” said St. Paul coach Joe Mone. We are similar type teams that play hard-nosed defense and play hard. They are going to play Thomaston basketball and we are going to play St. Paul basketball. We both want to kill one another for 32 minutes and have people say I’m glad I took the time to come to this game.”
Thomaston is making its fifth championship game appearance and second straight and second straight trip to the championship game having dropped an 83-58 decision to powerful Capital Prep a year ago. The Bears lone title was in 1993. Will the experience of being there help? McMahon says no.
“I don’t see how last year factors into this at all,” said McMahon. “High school teams change yearly. I don’t see how getting walloped last year helps.’
The Falcons won the title in 2010 and are also making their fifth appearance in the title title.
Okay, so throw that potential edge and what you have is even. Two teams with 22-4 records that have subtle differences that usually add up to more points than the other team.
Thomaston will have the best player on the court in senior Abby Hurlbert who is averaging 19 points a game in the tournament. She will be joined by sophomore Morgan Sanson (17 points), sophomore Gabrielle Hurlbert, sophomore Nicole Schafer and freshman Casey Carangelo.
Nobody will outwork the Bears and Sanson has come into her own in the tournament becoming a bonafide scoring threat. The key may be where the other points are coming from. Schafer has been a bonafide 3-point threat, Gabrielle Hurlbert seems to come up with a big basket here and there and the 6-foot Carangelo surprised Sacred Heart with eight points and nine rbounds.
Off the bench, seniors Bryttnie Thomas and Sarah Guay along with sophomore Charlotte Eberhardt have had big moments.
St. Paul throws a similar challenge at the Bears. Thomaston will have its hands full with 6-foot-1 center Theresa Swanke. But it just starts there. Kelly McMahon has the potential to create problems for the Uncle Bob and the Bears with a deft 3-point touch.
There is no letdown after Swanke and McMahon. Maekaela Giantonio, Liz Cretella and Briana Sanchez round out the starting lineup. Maddie Sturm came off of the bench to score six key points in the Falcons’ heart-stopping 40-39 win over Bolton in the semifinals.
“They have balance, depth and the biggest kid we’ve seen all year,” said McMahon. “Kelly and Swanke carry a lot of the load but we have to be concerned about all of them. Cretella is playing well and they have a bunch of kids running around shooting three’s.”
”I think they have a similar problem (with us),” added McMahon.
If you like to compare results against common opponents, good luck with that. Thomaston beat Sacred Heart, 43-32, St. Paul topped the Hearts, 42-35. Thomaston beat Immaculate, 55-49, St. Paul topped the Mustangs, 44-40.
It is hard to find an edge. Could it be in the mission? Thomaston would like to complete the job that started last year. The Bears have been a hard kill. Ask Sacred Heart. However, St. Paul hasn’t hit too many pot holes this year and didn’t panic against Bolton.
Where’s the edge, about 4:20 this afternoon we’ll know. Right now this one has all the earmarks for classic encounter.