Mills, Thomaston In A Battle of BL Unbeatens
Mills, Thomaston In a Battle of BL Unbeatens
Will there be a race for the Berkshire League girls basketball title this season? We will get at the very least an indication tonight, weather permitting, when Lewis Mills and defending champion Thomaston put their glossy undefeated 8-0 records on the line in Burlington.
Call this one no surprise against the big surprise. Coach Dennis Fowler’s Mills squad falls into the absolutely no surprise category.
Despite the matching records, the Spartans enter the game a decided favorite thanks to a talented veteran team that has been roughing up the rest of the BL. Since the day the last season ended the Spartans have been the unanimous pick to add a trophy to their showcase.
Mills’ closest game to date is a 56-40 win over Wamogo. Among the rest of the victories are a 67-38 win over Nonnewaug and a 60-39 victory over Northwestern Regional, the two teams along with Wamogo in the upper tier of the league.
“We have all the pieces, five girls who have played together since they were 11-years-old” said Fowler. “We have the natural point guard in Nicole Bisson, a great shooter at the No. 2 in Katherine Bayne, Tara Plocharczyk and Alicia Forella at the forwards and Amanda Adamski is as talented a big man as there has been in this league in a long time.”
There is also the experience factor that no team in the league can match.
“You can’t teach experience,” noted Fowler. “This group of sophomores beat Thomaston by 24 points in the 2009 BL Tournament and there were all those games against Thomaston and the Brandts (Sciarra and Brittany) and Morgan Doyle. They have been tested.”
The Spartans have no weaknesses and opponents have had to pick their poison as to who to guard. They have also easily adapted to the idea that they are supposed to be No. 1 in the league.
“At the beginning of the season we talked about embracing be the favorite and not being afraid of it,” said Fowler.
They are all ingredients that no team has been able to match. But, don’t think for a minute that Fowler or his team is underestimating the Golden Bears.
There is barely a familiar face to be found from last year’s Thomaston team which ripped through the BL with an unblemished 20-0 record and finished 22-1. The Brandts, Doyle, Steph Keith and Lizzie Eberhardt all graduated.
It is an entirely new starting unit with hardly a familiar face and only one senior, Hannah Martin. Yet, the team has found the ability to continue last year’s trend. The style is different, but the wins keep coming with the BL win streak now at 29.
Nobody expected the Bears to fall off the face of the BL but neither did many if any expect perfection at this late date. They are the big surprise.
“We knew we would be able to compete with every team but I’d be lying if I said we were not a pleasant surprise,’ said Thomaston coach Bob McMahon.
Fowler sees an ingredient that can’t be measured here.
“This isn’t meant to be a criticism but if you look at a list of talent in the league they wouldn’t be one or two but by record they are,” said Fowler. “We’ve talked a lot in practice the last two days about Thomaston toughness. Being around the Brandts and Doyle night after night paid off.
“They are a group of girls that are really united and want to prove to a lot of people wrong. They have an us against the world mentality and Bobby gets the most out of them.”
Sophomore Maggie Eberhardt has been the Bears leading scoring and has a bright future ahead of her. Martin is the team’s defensive catalyst and team leaders. Freshman Abby Hurlbert has been a steady presence while junior Laura Miller has been a rugged defender and rebounder with a good medium range jumper.
Junior Kellie Burns had provided a presence in the middle while Hannah Russo is rounding into form after some early season ankle concerns.
As Fowler noted this team is trying to establish its own identity.
“We’re not trying to live up to last year’s team’s standards,” said Burns. “We’re setting a standard for ourselves. We want to continue Thomaston basketball tradition.”
No surprise versus the big surprise. All we know is that one team will still be perfect and one team will have a loss. And we might know if there will be a BL race this season.