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Hurlbert says goodbye to BL the only way she knows how

POSTED March 02, 2014
BY John Nestor
Twitter: @nestorjdn

The Thomaston Golden Bears won their third straight Berkshire League Tournament title with a 46-37 win over Lewis Mills on Friday night. Picture by Marianne Killackey.

WINCHESTER - A gamer, a competitor, a leader and one of the most talented players in the league. Thomaston's Abby Hurlbert is all those things and it was all on display during crunch time of her final Berkshire League game.

Hurlbert came up huge on both ends of the floor and went out a winner, leading Thomaston to a 46-37 victory over Lewis Mills in the Berkshire League Tournament final.

It wasn't easy, it never is when these two teams meet, but when the Bears needed a little extra they got it from Hurlbert.

"Big players make big plays," Thomaston coach Bob McMahon said. "She hit one three that was amazing with someone in her face and just made so many big plays down the stretch."

Lewis Mills senior Mikayla Penn did as good a job as anyone has in the past few seasons in guarding Hurlbert and she limited her to seven points in the first three quarters and Hurlbert didn't score in the third as the Bears took a 30-26 lead into the fourth.

"Mikayla did a great job on defense," Lewis Mills coach Joe Capitani said. "She was tremendous and was able to do it without getting in foul trouble."

Even Hurlbert admitted Penn had made life tough on her for most of the night.

"The whole game she was playing great defense on me," Hurlbert said.

Julia Sheahan made a free throw early in the fourth to cut the lead to 30-27 and the teams went cold. Penn continued to hound Hurlbert but the Bears weren't giving up anything either and the game remained tight until Hurlbert took it upon herself to break it open.

A sweet step-back three by Hurlbert made it 33-27 with four minutes to go and was the first field goal of the fourth by either team and it was just the beginning of Hurlbert's strong finish.

Hurlvert forced a Mills turnover and then made a back-door cut for a layup to extend the lead to 37-27 with 3:19 to go. She added a hoop off a drive to answer a three by Natalie Ruel and added two blocks, a big steal and a pair of free throws in the final couple minutes to clinch Thomaston's third straight BL Tournament title.

"It's awesome and it was definitely the goal this year. Three years in a row is such and accomplishment for us and hopefully it continues," Hurlbert said. "We wanted to defend the title and we worked toward that all season."

While disappointed his team couldn't add the tourney title to its share of the regular season crown, Capitani couldn't help but admire the performance Hurlbert gave Friday night even though he's used to it.

"She came up with two huge steals, she hit that three that put them up from three to six and that was a big momentum changer," he said. "She's had a great career and when she wants something she goes out and gets it and she did tonight. She went out and pulled through for them in the fourth quarter for them tonight. She's a gamer and she makes plays when it counts the most."

The lights were bright Friday night and they will be even brighter from her on out for Hurlbert and the Bears, who are gunning for a return trip to the Class S state title game. Last season's loss to Capital Prep was a break out moment for Hurlbert and fits hard to imagine her not stepping up once again given the chance.

But Hurlbert and the Bears are trying not to look to far ahead.

"We know our goal and what we did last year and that's a big goal for us," Hurlbert said. "We will just have to take it game by game and keep playing Thomaston basketball."

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