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Thomaston tops Mills for third straight BL Tournament title

POSTED February 28, 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 - The third time was definitely a charm for the Thomaston girls basketball team Friday night.

Abby Hurlbert scored 16 points and Morgan Sanson added 10 to lead Thomaston to a 46-37 victory over Lewis Mills in the Berkshire League Tournament final at Northwestern High School.

The Bears had lost to the Spartans twice in the regular season but got a third shot at them and came through to win their third straight BL Tournament championship. Thomaston has won three straight BL regular-season titles as well including this season when they were tied atop the standings with Lewis Mills and Nonnewaug.

"It's been a great run," Thomaston coach Bob McMahon said. "This team battled and fought and they should feel pretty good about themselves after this. Thomaston basketball has a lot to be proud of."

Mills went 3-1 in the regular season against the other BL champs Thomaston and Nonnewaug and only an injury to Guard Natalie Ruel that coast her almost half the season and a late season loss at Housatonic kept the Spartans from winning the BL title outright.

The BL Tournament was a chance for the Spartans to lay claim to the title but once again the Bears shined in a big spot.

"There is something about this team that they just come through in these tough tournament games," McMahon said. "They step up and make plays, now we just have to keep it going."

Thomaston led 21-17 at the half and 30-26 entering the fourth quarter. A Mills free throw made it 30-27 and that was the only scoring for the first four minutes of the quarter until Hurlbert got going down the stretch.

The senior was huge down the stretch, scoring nine points and coming up with a pair of steals and two blocks in the final four minutes to help the Bears put the game away.

"It's awesome, this was our goal and it feels really good to accomplish it," Hurlbert said. 

Ruel led Mills with 21 points while All-BL center Teagan Dunn was saddled with foul trouble most of the game and finished with just four points.

"We knew it was going to be a battle and at the teams were evenly matched," Lewis Mills coach Joe Capitani said. "It was going to come down to who made those couple plays down the stretch when it counted and they made them."

Now both teams turn their attention to the state tournament. A Class S finalist a year ago, Thomaston (18-4) is the No. 3 seed is Class S and has a first-round bye. The Bears open tournament play next Friday at home against the winner of the matchup between No. 14 Old Lyme and No. 19 Parish Hill.

"We are playing well at the right time and we just need to keep playing hard," Hurlbert said. "Our goal is to go as far as we can and we just need to go into the tournament and play Thomaston basketball."

Mills (17-5) is the No. 7 seed in Class M and opens tournament play Monay against No. 26 Waterford (11-9).

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