Hurlbert, Golden Bears fight until the end
UNCASVILLE - One minute and six seconds remained and the Thomaston girls basketball team had long knew its dreams of winning the Class S championship were over.
Abby Hurlbert didn't care. She had more work to do.
Displaying the heart and intensity the Golden Bears showcased in reaching the title game, the fearless junior dove on the floor between two Capital Prep players and secured a jump ball, giving Thomaston possession.
The junior then got up to her feet and buried a three-pointer, triggering a championship-like celebration from the large Thomaston fan base on hand at Mohegan Sun Arena.
The Golden Bears may have lost, 84-55, to a stronger, taller and more talented team in Capital Prep. But they went down fighting, the only way they knew how.
"Looking at their games, (Capital Prep) killed almost everyone they played and teams played scared against them," said Hurlbert, who finished with 28 points and 10 rebounds. "That was not about to happen against us. Every time they pushed us, we pushed back. We were never going to back down, no matter the score."
Hurlbert had the brutal task of taking on Capital Prep's Kiah Gillespie (28 points, 13 rebounds) and Desiree Elmore (13 points, 11 rebounds) in the paint.
She did all she could, though, battling for rebounds and loose balls on the ground and never giving in, even when it became quickly apparent this would not be Thomaston's day.
The Trail Blazers led 23-5 after one and 43-16 at the half.
"Abby never backs down from anyone and, with the way the game started, it would've been the perfect opportunity to lay down," Thomaston head coach Bob McMahon said. "I think she actually liked (the challenge)."
Gillespie is a 6-foot-1 sophomore and Elmore, who stands at 6-feet, is just a freshman. For good measure, freshman guard Shaquana Edwards netted 18 points. It's safe to say Capital Prep, which destroyed Morgan by 58 points in the semis, has a bright future.
"(Gillespie) was impressive, even better than I thought," McMahon said. "Abby went at her and never backed down. She never would."
Despite the loss, Thomaston held its head high. The team carried seniors Maggie Eberhardt and Sydney Keith off the floor after the game in appreciation for their careers and this ultimate run to the casino. It was a disappointing result Saturday, but not a disappointing end.
"From the beginning to the end, we played our hearts out," Hurlbert said. "It was a great experience to come here and play this game and live it up (in this atmosphere). I'm so proud of this team and wouldn't trade any of our players for anyone."