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The shot the Scribes missed. Casey Carangelo hits late bucket, Golden Bears get by Lewis Mills, 51-50.

POSTED February 04, 2015
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

BURLINGTON: Okay, we’re going to be honest. None of the four reporters who were on hand for the Thomaston/Lewis Mills girls’ basketball actually saw the game winning basket, scored by the Golden Bears Casey Carangelo but we hear it went in.

A millisecond after the Spartans had seemingly pulled out a gutsy 50-49 win over the Golden Bears on a bucket by Ruta Martisauskaite (my friend Steve Barlow from the Rep-Am has to pronounce her name on video, good luck), there was Carangelo being mugged by her teammates with 6.2 seconds left.

We are used to having to keep track of what happens in a big hurry but on this one, we had to go to the videotape, never mind, we had to talk to the coach.

‘Nicole (Schaefer) did a great job getting the ball inbound,” Golden Bears head coach Bob McMahon said, “Gabby (Hurlbert) did a great job of taking two dribbles and then passing the ball up to Casey (Carangelo). It’s a play we work on in practice every day.”

Carangelo, who came up big for the Bears with 16 points, was comfortable with the play and simply reacted.

“She (Gabby Hurlbert) made a great pass,” Carangelo said. “We practice that every day and she executed it perfectly.”

It topped off a game you just had a feeling was going to go down to the wire as it did. These are two evenly matched teams who know each other well and both of their meetings this year (both won by Thomaston after dropping both a year ago) have been white knuckle affairs.

The home team who desperately needed to get this win if they had any chance of winning the Berkshire League, refused to go away on several occasions when they appeared destined to.

Thanks to the hot hand of Martisauskaite who drained three, three pointers at crucial spots, Mills was able to stay close enough to have a chance at the end.

Considering high scorer Natalie Ruel was on the bench for over 10 minutes after getting her fourth foul with two minutes left in the second quarter till the start of the fourth, the Spartans learned a little something about themselves on Tuesday night.

“At halftime we said, great first half, now we need to weather the third quarter, Mills head coach Joe Capitani said. “Ruta stepped up and hit some shots from the corner and Gabby (Bagdonas) played great. “

As for his view of the sequence of plays that determined this one, Capitani explained.

“The best thing about both of these teams is that we are so mentally tough,” Capitani said. “Thomaston didn’t put their head down, they didn’t pout, they got the ball inbounds quick, Carangelo runs the floor extremely well and I think we were riding the high of hitting the game winner and didn’t get back in time.”

With the win, Thomaston improves to 12-3, 12-1 in the BL. Mills now has three with a loss to Nonnewaug also on their resume.

Thomaston lost to Nonnewaug on Friday night for their only league defeat but still hold the edge over the Chiefs who have two league losses.

The Golden Bears are done with both teams and unless somebody pulls an upset, should be able to take home the regular season crown.

Mills was right there with the defending Class S champs this season but both opportunities went by the wayside.

“We had them on the ropes two times this year,” Capitani said, “I think you saw two motivated teams playing hard tonight. We know they are not going to back down and we know we are not going to back down.”

Are the Bears content with their play at the moment? Not really if you talk to their head coach.     

“We continue to shoot ourselves in the foot,” McMahon said. “We take some really crazy shots. I like the reason we are doing it, trying to go for the jugular but on this team the next guy can score.”

What did McMahon take away on the bright side of this important road win?

“I really liked our half-court defense tonight,” McMahon said, “That’s as good as it has been all year and we rebounded well.”  

Neither team came out particularly sharp at the outset with a combined 20 first quarter turnovers as the Golden Bears struggled with the Mills full court pressure while the home team fared no better.

It was a one point lead for the visitors at 28-27 at the half but on the strength of a nine point third quarter by Morgan Sanson, the Bears built their biggest lead at 43-36 with less than two minutes left in the frame.

Martisauskaite kept her team from going over the brink though with her third long ball of the game to keep the Spartans within striking distance.

In the end though, it was being more aware of the moment they were in that paid off for the Bears. It’s what champions do.

NOTES: Thomaston converted just 9 or 19 free throws while the Spartans were only slightly better at 9 of 15.

Morgan Sanson scored 20 in the win while Ruel added 11 in the loss.

Never a bad night when four sports writers are hanging out at a good game.

Rick Wilson, John Nestor (with the kids!), Steve Barlow and myself never mind being at any event. Being there with good friends is just a bonus. We call it ‘work’.

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