Part One of a day to remember. The Class S Championship.
CONNECTICUT: It was one of those days. One of those days that starts early and doesn’t end until the clock gets close to turning the calendar to the next.
It was a day that as of Wednesday, I had no idea how to handle, once the schedule came out and the games, both important, could not have been more held at worse times.
To top it off, a heavy head cold set in on this writer on Tuesday and had not shown signs of giving up any time soon, despite gallons of liquids and a trip to the doctor.
I’m up for just about anything, but when your energy is drained on a daily basis, getting in two events so far apart had the potential of being unrealistic.
The first event, the Class S girls basketball championship which featured the one and only Thomaston Golden Bears, drew a starting time of 10 a.m.
Yes, 10 in the morning on a Saturday at the far away land known as Mohegan Sun.
An ungodly time for anyone to play anything that involves energy and accuracy.
You ever try and get a teenager up and active that early?
For the third straight year, the Golden Bears worked their way back to “The Sun," a remarkable feat for a school whose entire population is about the size of the Torrington High School senior class.
There are in the area of 260 students at THS, but 120 girls.
Something magical has been happening in the small town half way between Torrington and Waterbury and it’s been truly amazing to watch.
Three years ago, we came to Uncasville to see the Bears get pawed by that WNBA team from Capital Prep, although even in that blowout, we saw the start of something special.
There was “The Push” by then junior Abby Hurlbert on Kiah Gillespie (who was only the CT Gatorade Player of the Year this year) late in the game under the Thomaston basket that sent Gillespie flying out of bounds.
It was a “We may not be able to beat you, but we are certainly not afraid of you” moment that resonated throughout the state.
The Bears may not have brought home the title that season, but they planted the seeds for two straight tremendous and memorable runs to “The Sun.”
A year ago, it was Hurlbert and those famous three free throws with the title on the line that the senior nailed with a confidence that belied her years.
This year, most expected a drop off with Hurlbert gone (Abby that is) but there was another Hurlbert left to carry on the family tradition (Gabby).
In a game that pitted two area teams looking to grab the top prize in Class S, Canton and Thomaston battled it out despite the early hour, with the Bears having just enough moxie and time to pull out a 52-50 win on a late steal by the younger Hurlbert after she had missed an opportunity to put the game out of reach if she had made a pair of free throws with 8.6 seconds left.
Gabby Hurlbert more than made up for her misses by anticipating an up court pass that she jumped in front of, sealing the win for the small town that has not yet finished celebrating.
The parade out of town was followed by a parade back into town, as has become a tradition for the fans of Thomaston basketball.
On Sunday, part two of the story. The UConn women at Gampel.