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Golden Bears look to keep the magic going

POSTED March 17, 2016
BY John Nestor
Twitter: @nestorjdn

With each passing season the legend grows and the Thomaston High girls’ basketball team has a chance to add another chapter to its incredible story on Saturday morning at Mohegan Sun.

The Golden Bears are back in the Class S state title game for the fourth straight year and go for a third consecutive title when they meet Canton in a rematch of last year's Class S final.

Before getting down to business on Saturday, the Golden Bears and coach Bob McMahon made what has become an annual trip to the Aqua Turf for the CIAC Championship Banquet. It was a chance to get the team to take a quick break and celebrate the accomplishment of making another final and establishing themselves as one of the state's most accomplished programs over the last five years.

Of all the teams in the room on Wednesday, it was Thomaston that has the most championship appearances with seven. Not Capital Prep (five) or undefeated Cromwell (six) or Notre Dame Fairfield (six). The Golden Bears and Capital Prep will both be looking for the fourth state titles in program history this weekend.

"It's a fairy tale but one we aren't going to question," McMahon said. "We are just going to keep living in it."

 It's a tale that began in the 2012-13 season when Thomaston got back to the title game for the first time since 1994 but lost to Capital Prep. The Bears didn't bring home the title that day but that game and that team set the tone for what was to come.

What came next was a pair of championships, in double OT over St. Paul and last season over Canton. The tiny school that could from the Berkshire league kept piling up wins and titles and has put itself in position for a three-peat after a 26-1 season.

"It's crazy to think that we have been there all four years, I really can't even put words to that," Thomaston senior Gabby Hurlbert said. "It's really memorable. We have played the most games possible every year for four years."

This group of seniors that includes Morgan Sanson, Nicole Schaefer, Charlotte Eberhardt, Danielle Genest and Samantha Brostek has been to the Sun in each of their four years as Golden Bears. They have helped create what has become a basketball dynasty and a team that has captivated and excited an entire town.

Eberhardt gave the team speech on Wednesday and touched on the bond that exists between the team and the town and what it means to play Thomaston High basketball. She told the story of an older woman who approached her and told her what a joy it was to watch this team over the years and how much it meant to her and the town, especially since she wasn't able to play growing up.

The bond between the team, the school and the town seems to grow by the day as well.

"We aren't just some basketball team from the woods and playing Thomaston basketball means playing your heart out," Eberhardt said. "Our fans follow us everywhere and everywhere we go they make every gym The Cave."

The fans will surely make the trip to Mohegan on Saturday morning and The Cave will have one last chance to cheer for a special group of seniors. A group that has grown up year to year under the bright lights of the state's biggest basketball stage.

"They make big plays," McMahon said. "They make big plays in big moments and they aren't scared to. I think they are the same players just a year better from season to season. They were not scared of that challenge when we got here to face Capital Prep even though it was monumental and they aren't scared of this game Saturday."

With all that this senior group has accomplished you wouldn't expect them to be scared, just the opposite and they have one last chance to add to their impressive record as Thomaston basketball players.

"It's a fantastic group of seniors and I love them all," Hurlbert said. "I have known each and every one of them since kindergarten. We have played together for so long and it is so fun to be with them that I wouldn't want to share this experience with anyone else. Knowing that this is our last time we will definitely leave it all on the floor."

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