Tyler Thomas peers at his list of personal goals on his bulletin board “every day when I wake up,” the senior from Amity said.
There are some lofty goals on that board. Have a better record than last year? Check. Be Amity’s leading scorer? Check. Become the SCC’s Player of the Year? Check. Be the best player in the state? Definitely in the conversation.
There is one more goal Thomas can possibly check off when he wakes up Sunday morning: win a state championship. The Spartans are in a final for the first time Saturday night, facing Immaculate at 8:30 p.m. for Division II at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
“I told Coach (Jeff Nielsen) I would definitely bring us there one year to the Sun, to have a chance at it,” Thomas said. “I thought every year we had a chance at it.”
Amity (20-6), the No. 9 seed, definitely is one of the beneficiaries of the five-division playoff system. Each year, the Spartans were in Class LL and were usually eliminated before the quarterfinals.
Still, Amity was able to beat Hartford Public, Manchester and Stamford before holding off Newtown in the semifinals.
“Everyone was excited on the bus ride home. Everyone was screaming, ‘Mohegan!’ Even our faculty knows this is the first (state final) one in Amity history.”
Said Nielsen: “This means a lot to us. We are happy to be here for our school and for our seniors. You also understand when you are in the championship game, you carry the banner for your league. We are proud to be representing the SCC.”
Thomas has been the go-to guy for the Spartans all season long. In this tournament alone, Thomas is averaging 25.5 ppg.
Tyler’s brother Tanner, along with Chris Bierezowiec and John Nolan among others provide the balance on both ends of the court to take some pressure off Tyler.
“I’ve never gone to watch the finals,” Thomas said. “The nerves will definitely be flowing through people, but I think we can handle it. There was a big crowd (against Newtown at Shelton) and I expect same at Mohegan. We should handle our business and hopefully come out with a win.”
Immaculate (21-5), the No. 2 seed, reached the SWC tournament final and is playing in its seventh state championship game. The Mustangs won the Class S Division in 2016.
“Some of the kids were there in 2016 (Isaiah Payton and Ronan Doherty),” Immaculate coach Nelson Mingachos said. “They have been there before, they know what it takes. Amity very good,.It should be a great game.”
Amity will be trying to treat Saturday’s final like all of the other games it played this season and do the same things it took to reach the final.
“They have experience,” Nielsen said about Amity. “We have to be able to fight through first-time jitters. When it’s time to go play basketball, we have to step up and be aggressive.”
Then maybe Thomas will be able to cross the ultimate item off his list.