PLYMOUTH, CT 022423JS08 Thomaston's Nicole Decker (10) drives to the basket past Northwestern's Bria Block (11) during their Berkshire League championship game Friday at Terryville High School. 
Jim Shannon Republican-American

Bears roll into Class S semifinals

THOMASTON – Familiar territory.

Once again the Thomaston High girls basketball team is knocking on the doors of Mohegan Sun. The Golden Bears cruised past No. 10 Lyman Memorial Monday night, 62-30, to move into the Class S semifinals for the second time in three seasons and seventh time over the last 12 years.

The Bears will face a formidable opponent in No. 6 East Catholic, who squeaked by No. 19 Canton, 54-53, Friday night at a time and location to be announced.

“This is our senior year and it’s amazing and awesome,” Thomaston’s Ava Harkness said. “It’s a fantastic feeling especially doing it with (fellow seniors) Nicole (Decker) and Ray (Aliu).”

The Bears made it a drama-free night on the strength of a first rate defensive effort and big-time performances from Harkness and Decker. Facing full court pressure with an in-you-face touch, the Bulldogs turned the ball over 30 times and saw the game get away early.

Eight turnovers in the first four minutes helped Thomaston to a 9-0 lead and it was 13-3 by the end of the quarter. By halftime the margin was up to 29-15.

“We’re just trying to steal the ball and get layups,” Decker said. “It’s easier baskets than running whole offensive sets. We’d rather have layups instead of jumpshots. Our defense led by Lily (VanOrmer) helped us tonight.”

While the defense was harassing the Bulldogs into turnovers and frustration, Harkness and Decker were controlling play at the Bears’ offensive end. Harkness showed some midrange prowess with her post-up game and poured in 24 points to go with 12 rebounds. Decker fired in 23 points from inside and outside. The duo also connected and their patented pick-and-roll plays Ray Alou chipped in with nine points.

“Ava and I have been playing together our whole life and that’s a strength,” Decker said. “We run the pick and roll real well and will continue to do it until somebody stops us.”  

Lyman got as close as 38-26 in the second half only to see the Bears go on a 9-2 run to end the period, five from Harkness, to take a 47-28 lead.

“As a team we’re excited, we felt we missed an opportunity last season and maybe got a little unlucky with the draw,” coach Brian Mozelak said. “We played Northwest Catholic and their recruiting effort was pretty good. For our seniors who missed freshman year due to Covid and lost last year this is great. “

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