Thomaston makes it three trips in a row to Mohegan Sun. Bears going back after 57-41 win over Immaculate.
We might start calling it "The Thomaston Sun." The Bears are going back to Uncasville after a 57-41 semifinal win over Immaculate of Danbury.
WATERBURY: Let’s make sure the fire trucks, ambulances and police cars in Thomaston are washed and waxed so the good people of this small town can send their girls basketball team back to a place they seem to spend so much time at, they might have earned free overnights.
For a remarkable third straight season, the Thomaston girls basketball team is headed back to Mohegan Sun to defend their Class S state championship after dispensing of Immaculate of Danbury by a 57-41 final.
Some teams out there may have better pure basketball talent or significantly more height, or somehow seem to always get the best players who may have only stepped foot in the town their school is located when visiting a distant ‘relative’.
No team, though, has captured the heart and soul of a town by refusing to let that terrible taste of losing enter their collective thought process.
It’s never pretty, but it works.
On Friday night against a team they knocked out in the quarterfinals a year ago, the Bears got performances from a number of players, but two in particular stood out.
Sophomore Julia Quinn, who missed last year due to injury, showed why she has been highly anticipated by the coaching staff of the Bears since eighth grade by scoring 14 points and showing a sweet jump shot that she can pull out at any range.
Not that many people had her high on the list of players to watch out for on Friday night, something that worked in the Golden Bears favor.
“We were looking to stop number 14 (Morgan Sanson) and number 35 (Casey Carangelo),” Mustangs head coach Tom Laporta said. “She shot the ball really well.”
Thomaston has been waiting for Quinn to get to this point, one most thought she would, but the comeback from the injury has been slow.
“I finally have my legs back under me finally after my injury,” Quinn said.
The look Quinn had in her eye when she came in off the bench was one that you like to see if she’s on your team, not so much if you are her opponent.
On a night when the Bears got in early foul trouble with both Carangelo and Gabby Hurlbert sitting with two, Quinn gave her team the offensive kick they needed.
All year long, the Bears have been looking for a player to step out and establish themselves as an outside shooting threat. Over her last three games, Quinn has been that player.
“It’s March, we’ll take Julia in March,” McMahon said. “Julia loves to play and she wants it. We are really lucky to have her.”
One play summed up how well Quinn played.
With 25 seconds left in the third quarter and her team up 37-28, the Bears held out for one shot.
Quinn would get the ball off a screen and make her way to the top of the key where she drained a two-point jumper, got fouled, pumped her fist and let out a yell of delight.
Morgan Sanson, a player will start her third straight Class S title game next weekend (yes, she’s only a junior), led all scorers with 21 points and set the tone with aggressive assaults on the basket from the outset.
The Bears raced out to an 8-2 lead, only to see Immaculate score five points in five seconds to get back to within one at 8-7 on a three-pointer and steal, but that was as close as they would get the remainder of the night.
A 9-0 run three minutes into the second quarter gave the Bears their first double digit lead at 21-11. You thought a run was coming by the team from Danbury, but the lead would not go under five at any point from there on out.
Every time you thought a run came, a different Bear stepped up on the offensive side, or in the case of Charlie Eberhardt, on the defensive end where she took consecutive charges that led to consecutive buckets for her team.
The lead was nine at the half and stretched out to 12 after three and you just had the feeling that frightening run was just never coming, and it didn’t.
How do you sum up a group of student athletes and their supporters?
The head coach gave it a try.
“The kids in white tonight,” McMahon said, “they play their rear ends off, year round. Especially for the four months that they get to wear the brown and gold. I’m sure you guys caught a glimpse or two of our student section tonight, you know we're one of smaller schools in Connecticut, but you would never know it by that turnout.”
It was said by my friend Rick Wilson a year ago that you “Can’t Kill the Bear” and for the second straight campaign, their desire to win is stronger than ever.
Why is that?
“We know the feeling of winning and we know the feeling of losing,” Sanson said. “And it just comes down to who wants it more.”
Thomaston might not be the biggest town numbers-wise, but you would be hard pressed to find any place that can match the drive and determination these athletes have shown during this remarkable run. One that will certainly have those fire trucks and emergency vehicles guiding their team out of town sometime next weekend.
NOTES: Thomaston will go for their second straight title against Canton, who got by Notre Dame of Fairfield by a 52-42 final to advance.