Thomaston girls going to the semi's in Class S.
THOMASTON: It wasn't really a monkey that came off the Thomaston girls basketball teams back, it was more like a thousand pound gorilla.
The No. 3 ranked Golden Bears broke a three-year quarter final losing streak in the Class S State Tournament with a gutsy, 58-54 win over Hyde Leadership that propels them to a semi-final match up with No. 10 East Windsor on Friday night at a site to be determined.
East Windsor knocked off No. 2 Cheney Tech by a 54-50 score to move on.
Not getting past the third round of the states was very much on each Bear player and at times on Monday night, it showed on the court.
"We have been stuck in the quarter finals for years." Bear guard Sydney Keith said. "I've never played in a semi-final game. It weighed on us."
After winning the regular season Berkshire League crown and the BL Tournament trophy, the last domino to fall was winning that elusive quarter game.
Thomaston matched up against a Hyde Leadership coached by former Old Dominion legend, Tracy Claxton who scored 1999 points during her career at OD and was third all-time in rebounds with 1434.
One skill Claxton passed on to her team was the ability to dominate the boards, the Howling Wolves held and almost 4-1 edge in rebounds and almost stole this one with an incredible fourth quarter on the glass.
"On a night that we clearly didn't play our best, we came away with the win." Bears coach Bob McMahon said. "Now we can relax and just play."
It wasn't pretty but gutsy certainly describes the effort put forth by a team that looked tired and nervous at times Monday night.
After getting off to a fast start at 9-3 midway through the first quarter, the home team was outscored by a 13-4 score the rest of the way and trailed by a 16-13 score after one.
Hyde was not incredibly fast but they could get inside and when they did, the at times refused to let any Thomaston player get a look at the ball.
Trayneice Mims is the player who make the Wolves go and her teammates feed off the juniors energy.
Mims finished with 16 points to lead all scorers, including a pair of three-pointers.
All year long, when challenged, this Bears team has been up to the task at hand and while they have been led all year by senior Maggie Eberhardt, this is truly a team in every sense, especially when their star player was having an off night.
With Eberhardts shot not falling, Keith and teammate Abby Hurlburt (15 points) came out firing in the second quarter with back to back three's to give Thomaston the lead again at 19-16.
Eberhardt scored five points in the frame, none bigger than a three pointer with just over three minutes left in the half that put her team up by three.
Hyde would never lead again but you never felt comfortable in this one.
Each time the home team would start to pull away the visitors would go on a run and bring theme back.
In the third quarter, Thomaston built a nine point lead at 36-27 off a pair of free throws by both Keith and Hurlburt only to see the Wolves charge back on a 9-2 run to cut the lead to two at 38-36.
Hyde switched from a first half zone to a second half man-to-man defense that took the Bears time to adjust.
Eberhardt and Hurlburt got Thomaston back on track with back to back inside shots but Hyde hung tough and trailed by just five at 45-40 entering the final eight minutes.
480 seconds to releasing the large anvil hanging around the Bears neck.
A key inside move by Morgan Sansone, who is having a terrific freshman year and state tournament built the lead back up to seven and Eberhardt scored on a nice inside move to stretch the lead back up to eight at 49-41.
With just over four minutes to play, Hyde put the Bears in a one and one situation and Bryttnie Thomas and Gabrielle Hurlburt hit all four of their chances to help keep the lead.
In all, the Bears would convert on 9 of 14 shots from the line in the frame.
Because of their relentless rebounding, the Wolves kept intense pressure on Thomaston.
On one possesion alone, their were six shots and six rebounds by the Wolves.
Their free throw shooting (3 of 8 in the fourth) was the Wolves undoing. They had done everything but put the ball in the basket over the last three minutes.
Mims would give her team one more shot at a tie with a long three pointer with :50 seconds to go but Eberhardt would hit two of four free throws to help send the Bears to a date not unlike a school dance.
The Golden Bears are going to the semi's.