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Thomaston outlasts Classical for Class S semifinal berth

POSTED March 09, 2016
BY John Nestor
Twitter: @nestorjdn

Thomaston senior Morgan Sanson drives for two of her 20 points in Tuesday's 60-47 victory over Classical Magnet in the Class S state tournament.

THOMASTON - Thomaston girls basketball coach Bob McMahon said it best after the game, "It's going to take a 32 minute effort to knock us out." Classical Magnet ended up falling about seven minutes short.

Morgan Sanson scored 20 points and Casey Carangelo added 16 for top-seeded Thomaston, which also played some stout defense down the stretch in a 60-47 victory over No. 9 Classical Magnet in a Class S state tournament quarterfinal matchup Tuesday night in Thomaston.

With the win the Golden Bears (25-1) advance to the semifinals to take on No. 4 Kolbe Cathedral on Monday night at Pomperaug High School in Southbury. Thomaston will be looking for its fourth straight appearance in the Class S final as it goes for its third state title in a row.

Classical gave itself a chance to derail Thomaston's dream of another title by taking a 45-44 lead in the opening minute of the fourth quarter on a 3-pointer by Holly Weldon. But the Gladiators weren't able to really put up a fight down the stretch as the Golden Bears defense turned it up a notch and their experience kicked in.

"We just played better defense in the fourth quarter," McMahon said. "We talked about it at the half and they just did it in the fourth quarter. It's a credit to our kids. They really pay attention and do what's asked of them just about all the time."

After Classical took the lead in the fourth Sanson answered with a bucket to give Thomaston the lead for good. Carangelo then got going with a putback after an offensive rebound and a 3-pointer to extend the lead to 51-45. A steal by Gabby Hurlbert (11 points) led to a three by Julia Quinn to make it 54-45 with 3:33 to go and Classical was forced to burn a timeout.

"We kept pushing and fighting and our defense was great in the fourth quarter," Hurlbert. "We did a better job talking and helping on defense in the second half."

The lead grew to 58-45 before Classical ended Thomaston's run with two free throws with under a minute to play. By then the only thing in doubt was the final score and it was another Thomaston tournament win, but it wasn't as easy as the final score might suggest.

"They came out strong and beat us up the floor several times in the first half," Sanson said. "The difference was our defense in the second half, it changed the game and they didn't get as many easy shots."

Defense, steals, timely buckets all coming in the stretch of a tight game. Those are all signs of a team that has been through these kind of games on a regular basis and time and time again the Golden Bears have found a way. Having that success to fall back on comes in handy in situations like these and Thomaston was able to rely on that experience Tuesday night.

"It definitely helps. In the back of your mind you know that you have been in these types of situations before and not to freak out," Sanson said. "Just calm down and you've been there before, you know how to handle these situations, no need to worry just relax."

Now Thomaston can relax until Monday when they play in their fourth straight Class S semifinal and that same experience might come in handy again like it did against Classical.

"I knew we weren't going to go away," McMahon said. "I knew it was going to take a 32 minute effort to beat us and they came up a little bit short."

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