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Eberhardt carries Thomaston into Class S title game

POSTED March 10, 2013
BY Patrick Tiscia
Twitter: @PatrickTiscia

NEW BRITAIN - Her shots were in rhythm, her confidence and intensity was sky high and, in one of the biggest games her school has played in nearly 20 years, she was by far the best player on the floor.

For Maggie Eberhardt and the Thomaston girls basketball team, Saturday night will go down as one of the more memorable in her career and school history.

The senior scored a game-high 24 points, including four three-pointers, as No. 3 Thomaston led wire-to-wire in defeating 10th seeded East Windsor, 46-34, in the Class S semifinals at New Britain High School.

"We wanted to win this game extremely bad," Eberhardt said. "No one wanted to lose and halfway through the third quarter, we just knew we were going to win."

The Golden Bears, who last made the finals in 1994, will attempt to win the Class S championship next weekend at Mohegan Sun Arena against No. 1 Capital Prep (time and day to be determined). It will take a Herculean effort to beat Capital Prep, which destroyed Morgan, 94-36, in the other semifinal on Saturday.

But before Thomaston focuses on next week, it will celebrate a game that it controlled from the start.

Eberhardt wasted no time, connecting on two straight threes to give the Golden Bears a 7-0 lead. Thomaston's defense, a force all night, held East Windsor scoreless for the first half of the quarter and led 16-11 after one thanks to a Sydney Keith three at the buzzer.

Eberhardt added seven more points in the second and Abigail Hurlbert's lay-up in the final minute gave Thomaston a comfortable 28-16 advantage at the half. If not for the foul line, where Thomaston was 4-of-15 in the first two quarters, this contest would've been a rout.

However, the Golden Bears' relentless defense overcame their free throw woes. They forced 14 turnovers in the first half and held East Windsor to only two field goals in the second quarter. Madison Carolus was its lone player to finish in double figures with 11 points.

"The bottom line comes down to our defense," Thomaston head coach Bob McMahon said. "We read the scouting report and went right after them. It was text book."

The Golden Bears kept East Windsor off the scoreboard from the 2:43 mark of the third quarter until 2:33 remained in the fourth. Meanwhile Eberhardt, who burned the East Windsor zone from the outside all night, drove to the basket and hit a runner to give Thomaston a 42-27 cushion.

"Their zone was spread out and we focused on passing into the middle of it to open up shots," Eberhardt said. "I felt good shooting tonight."

"What we saw tonight from Maggie was nothing new," added McMahon. "The stage doesn't scare her."

Gabrielle Hurlbert put on the finishing touches, converting on a three-point play with 2:03 left, upping the score to 45-28 and sending the large Thomaston fan base into a frenzy.

"We've had a lot of kids fight for many years for the opportunity to win it all," said McMahon, whose team has also beat Lyman Memorial and Hyde in this tournament. "We're looking forward to bring our team and our fans to Mohegan Sun."

"I have never been there," Eberhardt said. "We can't wait for the chance."

A chance well deserved.

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