Keith saves the best for last
Keith saves the best for last
THOMASTON – Sydney Keith knows it is almost over, this four-year basketball odyssey that seemingly comes and goes in the time it takes to lace up a pair of sneakers. And she has saved the best for last.
The senior point guard is not the first person or first name you notice when it comes to the Thomaston High girls basketball team who will play for the Class S state championship this weekend at Mohegan Sun Arena against Capital Prep.
There is Maggie Eberhardt and Abby Hurlbert, they are the All-Stars the leading scorers the bulk of the horsepower that fuels the Berkshire League championship engine. They are the headliners joined by a cast of teammates that complete a championship picture.
For Keith it has been a valued yet complimentary role. Until recently this is. Over the last three weeks she has played herself into the limelight. She has been a major force in big games. She has forced everyone to sit up and take notice.
The clock has been speaking to her and she has responded.
“Something just clicked and everything started working well,” said the soft-spoken Keith. “Maybe subconsciously I realize it is coming to an end. It’s not something I have been really thinking about but my game has changed.”
The roll started in the BL championship game when Keith came through with a solid floor game while Hurlbert was on the bench in foul trouble. It was hardly a one-night stand. She was immense in the BL Tournament championship victory over Lewis Mills, 50-35.
Keith scored 12 points showing a penchant for driving to the hoop instead of just looking for the open three-point shot. You knew something was in the works when Keith spoke after the game.
“Other teams are saying I’m soft and that I can only shoot threes,” she said. “I’m looking to prove everyone wrong.”
Mission accomplished. The state tournament has continued to the trend. There have been 10- point efforts in both victories over Lyman Memorial (64-41) and Hyde Leadership (58-54) in the state tournament.
In the semifinals there were just five points, including a big three-pointer. But that was a game reeking of defense and Keith has been the stopper. She reduced East Windsor’s Melissa Wabble to ineffectiveness.
Bears coach Bob McMahon is not surprised by it all. Keith has always been a good basketball player which is why she has started for two and half years.
“We have always told Sydney to be assertive and something has clicked for her,” said McMahon. “To have another kid that is playing that well has obviously made us better. We’ve won seven elimination games in a row going back to the games against Housatonic, Nonnewaug and Lewis Mills any of which had we lost we might not have won the BL title. Then the BL Tournament and through the state tournament. She’s been a big part of it.”
McMahon has always raved about Keith’s defense. She gets the opponent’s big bopper. McMahon will reel them off for you – Nonnewaug’s Katie Burke, East Windsor’s Wabble, Hyde’s Trayneice Mims. You name her, Keith gets her. She has made life difficult for all of them.
“Whoever I’m guarding is uncomfortable and my teammates have more faith in me,’ said Keith.
Indeed. When Keith got on an offensive roll against Lewis Mills she said her teammates told her to keep shooting. “I think they have been waiting for me to start playing the way I have been.”
McMahon says the coolest thing about it all is that you can see that Keith knows she is playing well. The confidence is sky high.
It’s a pretty cool ending any way you look at it. The career ends this weekend. It ends at Mohegan Sun. The Bears are one of the best and Keith goes out playing her best. That is a pretty cool final chapter.