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Bears Head Back To "The Sun"

POSTED March 18, 2014
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

WATERBURY: If you hadn’t of seen it, you wouldn’t have believed it and even after you saw it, you weren’t really sure what had just happened.

Maybe it was the full moon or the fact that it was St. Patrick’s Day but whatever it was, it resulted in another trip to the grandest of all high school basketball destinations; Mohegan Sun.

Count on another pretty slow day on either Saturday or Sunday for the town of Thomaston, the girls are going back to The Sun.

After playing about as bad a basketball game as they could for the first 16 minutes, the Golden Bears, a team who you simply can’t keep down, fought back with a dominant second half to beat Sacred Heart by a 43-32 score in the Class S semi-finals.

How improbable did this win look? So bad that you had to figure the Hearts where lining up bus transportation to Uncasville with their team up 21-12 at the half.

How about the third seeded Bears shooting an abysmal 4-29 in the first half, missing layups, committing turnovers and doing everything but tell the Hearts how the food was at Mohegan or at the CIAC luncheon held for the eight teams who will play in the finals this weekend.

At halftime, something changed.

I don’t think it was a leprechaun who made a difference but it was an Irish head coach named McMahon who talked his team into changing their wayward ways in a big hurry.

“We just were not playing Thomaston basketball,” sophomore Gabby Hurlbert said. “We had to come out in the second half and show them who we really were.”

Abby Hurlbert starting things with two free throws off an aggressive drive to the basket, a Golden Bear staple.

Morgan Sanson did the same next time down the court and hit one of two shots before Hurlbert drilled a three ball and the lead was only five at 23-18.

Sacred Heart standout Mikyla, relatively quiet in the first half with just three points, tried to assert herself with a runner in the lane but Sanson was getting her shot in the lane, completely ineffective in the first half, to fall in the third.

The momentum in the gym shifted like the ground in that 4.7 earthquake today in California and when Hurlbert drove for a layup with 23 seconds left in the quarter, the Bears had come all the way back to take a 28-27 lead.

A 16-6 quarter was all it took and that’s what the number three seed delivered in those eight minutes.

It would be a lead they would never relinquish and in front of a sellout crowd of over 1450, Thomaston increased their lead on another Sanson (10 points) three point play which was followed by a long ball that looked ill-advised when it left her hand but sweet when the shot by Nicole Schaefer found the bottom of the net with just over five to play.

The Hearts started to press but twice Abby Hurlbert found freshman Casey Carangelo behind the pack for buckets.

The freshman center plays well beyond her years and calmly made the two pressure filled layups with heavy on-coming traffic en route.

“I forget sometimes that she is a freshman,” Abby Hurlbert said. “She plays so well and does whatever we need her to do.”

Jacobs, who led the Naugatuck Valley League in scoring this season, finished with but nine points and was never really allowed to get into an offensive flow by an aggressive Bears defense that turned things up in the second half.

As happy as the Bears where with the win, Hearts head coach Ryan Sullivan did not have the best of St Patty’s Days on the court.

“I’m really at a loss right now to figure out what happened in that second half,” Sullivan said. “I thought we did a good job on them defensively in the first half but it got away from us in the second.”

So get ready Uncasville, the Bears are not only coming back around in the woods after a long winter, some Golden ones will be bringing a small town with them this weekend.

Box Score  

Thomaston      4          8          16        15        43

Sacred Heart   10        11        6          5          32

Thomaston (43): Abby Hurlbert 4-4-15, Sarah Guay 0-1-1, Nicole Schaefer 2-2-7, Casey Carangelo 4-0-8, Morgan Sanson 4-2-10, Charlie Eberhardt 1-0-2. Totals: 15-9-43

Sacred Heart (32): Maya Eggleston 2-6-10, Mahnue Sahn 3-2-8, Amber Craig 1-0-3, Mikyla Jacobs 3-2-9, Maryn Vaillancourt 1-0-2. Totals: 10-10-32

3-pointers: (T) Hurlbert 3, Schaefer (SH) Craig, Jacobs

Records: Thomaston 19-4, Sacred Heart 18-5  

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