UNCASVILLE >> Thomaston’s girls basketball team persevered through an ugly game at the Mohegan Sun Saturday morning for a 52-50 win over No. 1 Canton and a second straight Class S championship for the No. 3 Golden Bears.
“We’ll have to live with those turnovers, along with the championship,” said Coach Bob McMahon.
In one final capsule of the game, Thomaston’s Gabby Hurlbert went to the line with a chance to seal the win, eight seconds left. In a classic moment, it reminded Thomston fans of last year’s heroics by Gabby’s older sister Abby.
Gabby did it a different way, befitting this game.
She missed both free throws, then stole a Warrior pass to end the game.
“We never give up,” Hurlbert said. “We had to keep pushing.”
Thomaston was here for the third straight time. Canton’s last trip to a final was 1999. The difference showed.
After a dominating first quarter, the Bears fell victim to a Warrior defense that won the turnover battle 29-18.
“(Canton) kept changing things,” said McMahon. “We did a terrible job of protecting the ball.”
Neither team looked good on offense after Thomaston’s first quarter.
The Bears had turnover troubles while the Warriors tried to force shots, including layups, through a Thomaston defense giving up only the hope of a foul call.
Canton shone at the line – 19-for-27; Thomaston ruled beyond the arc – 6-for-10 in threes.
“They killed us from the outside today,” said Canton coach Brian Medeiros.
In a low-scoring game that frustrated offenses inside, threes were bigger than usual.
It took the teams three minutes of the opening quarter to battle to a 4-4 tie. A put-back and drive by Thomaston’s Gabby Hurlbert and Morgan Sanson (13 points) offseta pair of foul shots and a drive by Canton’s Gabby Rose (11 points) and Emily Briggs (game-high 18 points).
Then the shooters went to work. Nicole Schaefer (11 points) struck first with a three. Briggs answered, 7-7.
Schaefer won the battle with another three and a mid-range jumper, 12-7.
Julia Quinn hit a jumper from the foul line and two free throws. After a foul shot by Warrior Maggie Treachy (15 points), Thomaston’s lead was 16-8.
Hurlbert started the second quarter on a 5-0 run with a fast break and a three, 21-8. Then things went downhill for the Bears.
“We let their pressure get to us,” said Quinn, when the Warriors extended their defense.
In a storm of Canton steals, referee travel calls and missed Thomaston shots, the Warriors came back on a 10-4 run in the final four minutes.
Thomaston’s lead wore down to 25-18. Life got worse in the second half.
“They came out strong and we realized we needed to slow it down,” said Thomaston’s Schaefer.
In a game already short of offense, the slow-down made points all the more precious. Briggs started the third period with a three, 25-21.
Thomaston’s Sanson and Casey Carangelo fended her off with a drive and a two-foot hook, 29-21. Gabby Rose and Maggie Treachy rampaged 7-0 for the Warriors, 29-28.
After a dominating start, the Golden Bears faced the prospect of losing. Carangelo hit a foul shot, Schaefer another three, ending the quarter 33-28.
Briggs started the final period with a layup. Thomaston’s Quinn was there with a three.
Four straight sets of foul shots on both sides left Thomaston leading 45-36, 4:36 left, and still the Canton threat remained.
“The kids battle. We play to the final whistle,” said Canton coach Medeiros.
This time, the wait seemed endless.
“I looked at the clock and it was only 4:40 (left),” said Thomaston’s Quinn, as the Bears struggled to hold on. Briggs drove for 48-44, three minutes left. Quinn hit a huge three, 52-44, 2:36.
Quinn’s were the last points Thomaston made. Canton’s Treachy and Rose went to the line for three points. Treachy followed with a three, 52-50, 49 seconds left before another Hurlbert brought the title home for Thomaston.
At Mohegan Sun
Thomaston 16 9 8 19 – 52
Canton 8 10 10 22 – 50
Nicole Schaefer 4-0-11; Gabrielle Hurlbert 3-0-7; Morgan Sanson 3-7-13; Charlotte Eberhardt 1-0-2; Casey Carangelo 1-3-5; Julia Quinn 3-4-12; Alexa Milius 0-0-0; Samantha Brostek 1-0-2; Totals: 16-14-52.
Katie Walker 1-0-2; Jacquie Grabowski 0-0-0; Emily Briggs 7-2-18; Maggie Treachy 3-8-15; Gabrielle Rose 2-7-11; Emma Charron 0-2-2; Abbe Skinner 1-0-2; Carly Atkinson 0-0-0; Totals: 14-19-50.
3-point goals: T – Schaefer 3; Hurlbert; Quinn 2. C – Briggs 2; Treachy.
Records: Thomaston 23-3; Canton 21-3.
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