THOMASTON – The Bears are back. Not that they were gone that long but they are back in prime time now.
Coach Bob McMahon’s relentless band grabbed its first Berkshire League girls basketball title since 2017 and seventh in the last 10 seasons with a 54-29 dismantling of Northwestern Regional Saturday afternoon.
Thomaston is 8-0 having beaten every team in the BL. The BL title criteria was to play everybody once as part of a 12-game schedule. Since each team does not play the same teams twice the remaining four games will be used for BL Tournament seedings.
Thomaston was heading for a quarterfinal matchup with Putnam last March when Covid-19 shut the season down. There is no state tournament this year. So this title took on a little extra meaning.
“This means the world,” admitted Thomaston’s lone senior starter All-Stater Emma Kahn who was brilliant on this day with 18 points and six rebounds. “We’ve been waiting since fourth grade to cut this net down. I’m not able to explain it. It doesn’t surprise me. We knew we would have some challenges but we worked for it. “
“If this is the only thing we have and there is no chance to go to Mohegan Sun (state final) then we wanted to go for it,” said McMahon. “This group fits right in with the teams of the past.”
The Bears left no room for doubt with four wins in five days over the top teams in the league – Shepaug, Nonnewaug, Housatonic and Northwestern. They saved some of the best for last with Kahn the ringleader.
After Northwestern erased an early 10-3 deficit to close to 15-11 early in the second quarter, the Bears and Kahn said enough. In a little more than a minute, Kahn drilled a three-pointer and converted an old-fashioned three-pointer around a Northwestern basket for a 21-13 lead.
Emma Sanson, who celebrated her 17th birthday with 16 points, added six points and Kahn nailed a 15-footer with two seconds left in the half giving her 14 in 16 minutes and a 29-17 lead at the break.
Was McMahon worried even a bit before the run?
“Not with these guys,” he said. “Not with the kids who have the keys to the Cadillac.”
If the Highlanders had any hopes of a comeback they were torched in a scoreless third quarter that included an 0-for-11 effort from the floor. Meanwhile, Thomaston was reeling off 16 points that included five points apiece from Sydney Eggleton and Aurelia Barker for a 45-17 lead.
Game, set, match and title – Thomaston.
“Thomaston is a very good team that has come a long way in a short time,” said Northwestern coach Fred Williams. “And Emma Kahn is the best player in the league. She can play defense, run the offense and is a very good shooter. There is no one that does all the things that she does and does well.”
The Highlanders struggled all game with Thomaston’s relentless, trapping defense, committing 24 turnovers and finding good shots at a premium.
“The girls asked me to do extra work on defense in practice,” said McMahon. “The defense is as good as it has ever been.”
And another title felt pretty good too.
“(Most of us) still have next year but together we knew the BL was the only thing we could put up this year,” said Sanson. “Growing up we always wanted a shot at it. This is such a great team. We are always together.
The Bears are back.