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A new season and the Bears' journey continues

POSTED December 15, 2015
BY Rick Wilson
Twitter: @scribewilson

            THOMASTON – So here we are a little more than three weeks and one more ring later. It’s a new season (finally) now that football has reached the end of the road with last week’s title games. But the target on the back hasn’t changed. If anything it is larger, about the size of Texas now.

            It is what the Thomaston High girls sports teams carry around with them these days. You get to be called `Title Town’ when you have won four state titles and played in six state finals in three different sports in two years with so many of the same faces.

            But maybe in no sport do the Bears loom larger than in basketball. Two-time defending Class S champions, three state trips to Connecticut high school basketball’s dream destination – Mohegan Sun. Four-time defending Berkshire League and BL Tournament champions.

            And for the final time the dreaded words that opponents are tired of hearing – “They’re all back.”

            Let’s clear the air here, nobody is unbeatable and that includes the Bears. In the BL, Nonnewaug with Courtney Carlson has always been a challenge. Housatonic and much improved Wamogo team will hope they can rattle the Bears’ cave.

            But while we are clearing the air, let’s also be honest. Thomaston is the beast of the BL it will be a major stunner if the Bears are not hoisting up some BL gold for the fifth straight year. A fourth straight trip to Mohegan? Don’t rule it out.

            The youthful Bears are now the veteran Bears championship bred with hopes of forcing the powers that be to build a bigger wall for banners in the THS gym.

It starts with rugged and relentless senior All-Stater Morgan Sanson (16.6) who is joined by senior point guard Gabrielle Hurlbert (7.7) who made the key steal to seal last year’s 52-50 state title win over Canton and the team’s top defensive player and solid three-point shooter Nicole Schaefer.

            In the middle will be improving 6-foot junior center Casey Carangelo who has two impressive state finals on her resume while senior forward Charlotte Eberhardt also brings an improved game to the table.

            What may really deflate opponents is Julia Quinn. After missing all of her freshman season and a good part of last season due to a knee injury, Quinn, a 5-foot-3 junior dynamo came on with a pair of memorable performances in the state tournament last year.

            In the championship game quick-footed Quinn reduced Canton’s pressure to less than intimidating and then proceeded to score 12 points including two absolutely gargantuan 3-pointers in the fourth quarter that derailed a Canton comeback attempt. She had 14 points against Immaculate in the semifinals, ruining those hopes.

            The bulk of the Bears depth comes in the form of senior guard Sam Brostek, sophomore guard Alexa Milius and junior forward Cam Capaldo. Senior Danielle Genest should also see some time.

            The Bears have all the ingredients – size, speed, offense, defense and championship experience. But what has played an equal ingredient to all the physical plusses has been an amazing ability to be singled-minded and not let the past or the future get in the way.

            There is immense pressure on a group that has spent so much time in the championship circle. Expectations are sky high, enough to suffocate the strongest of wills. Past experience, however, suggests the Bears don’t seem to be bothered. They just seem to roll on their championship way.

            “We can’t take anything for granted,” said Morgan Sanson. “We know in our heads that we will have to do it. It isn’t given to us.”

            “It’s a different year, our senior year,” said Hurlbert. “We want to be the best we can. We have to start from scratch. We’ve made it (to the finals). We know how much hard work it takes.”

            The Bears are uncharted waters here. They are not one-year, one-sport wonders they are three-sport, multi-year wonders. They are writing a story that the state is watching. This story intertwines with softball and field hockey, there are too many of the same faces that play two or all three of the sports.

            There is a relentless pursuit of championship here. Relentless. There is always an element of good fortune needed along the way – avoid the injuries, avoid the bad night, rise to the occasion, keep the good chemistry, handle adversity.

            Here we go again. History suggests you forgot your medicine if you bet against them.

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