BURLINGTON >> In an season opening match-up between two of the best teams in the Berkshire League, it was the Lewis Mills Spartans who walked off its home court victorious against the defending league champions Thomaston, 46-42.
“It’s a huge confidence boost going forward,” said Spartans head coach, Joe Capitani. “The team that had more guts and make plays down the stretch was going to win.”
Even though it was a big win for the Spartans, Capitani is keeping the game in perspective.
It’s just game one, not a championship game. We’re going to improve no matter what happened in the game,” he said.
“Hats off to them,” said Thomaston head coach Bob McMahon. “They were better prepared.”
In recent seasons, the Spartans always play the Golden Bears close, but haven’t been able to dethrone them.
“We always thought that we could play with them,” said Spartans senior, Teagan Dunn. “They never give up.”
The game not only featured the two best teams in the Berkshire League, but also two of the top players in Dunn and Thomaston’s Abby Hurlbert.
Dunn led the Spartans with 18-points and added 20 rebounds in the win.
“Everyone thinks that she is just a post player,” said Capitani. “She can guard Abby and she is smart enough to guard on the perimeter.”
Hurlbert led all scorers with 23-points with 15 of them coming from beyond the three-point line.
“Abby kept us in the game,” said McMahon.
Fans from both schools packed the stands for the game and it made a difference.
“That was a perk, it helped give us some energy,” said Teagan Dunn, Spartans senior center.
The Spartans jumped out early and took a 29-20 lead going into halftime.
Thomaston though wouldn’t go away quietly, dominating the third quarter defensively while holding the Spartans to just two points in the quarter.
“I told them that we just got punched,” said Capitani.
The Golden Bears though weren’t able to capitalize on its momentum early in the fourth quarter.
“At the start of the fourth we couldn’t get a shot off,” said McMahon.
Up three points with under a minute left, Mills junior point guard Natalie Ruel made the play of the game that sealed the win for the Spartans.
Hurlbert broke through a double team and as she was bringing the ball up the court, Ruel poked the ball loose from Hurlbert and went right to Dunn who went down and scored an easy layup to give them a five point lead.
“As a point guard it is my job to make plays,” said Ruel, who scored 16-points and added four assists in the win. “My teammates knew where to be to make plays.”
Capitani was not surprised by his junior’s performance.
“Nat is a gym rat,” he said. “All she wants to do is improve and get better. She plays like a senior.”
Thomaston has a short time to make adjustments as they will play against Gilbert Thursday night at home.
“We got to get more rebounds,” said McMahon. “That’s what it boils down to.”
The Spartans are back in action next Tuesday, on the road against Nonnewaug, but Ruel knows the team will use the confidence from the win for the rest of the season.
“It’s great because it gives us the confidence that we can win the league and win every game we go into,” she said. “If we do what we did tonight we will be successful.”
Lewis Mills 46 Thomaston 42
At Lewis Mills High School
Lewis Mills 10 19 2 15 – 46
Thomaston 9 11 8 14 – 42
Lewis Mills (46): Teagan Dunn 7-4-18; Natalie Ruel 5-5-16; Lesleigh Carter 2-2-6; Mackenzie Bergstrom 2-0-2; Ailene Berry 1-0-2; Mikayla Penn 1-0-2; Samira Abdelrenim 0-0-0; Julia Sheehan 0-0-0.
Thomaston (42): Abby Hurlbert 8-2-23; Morgan Sanson 4-0-8; Bryttnie Thomas 2-1-5; Gabby Hurlbert 1-0-2; Charlie Eberhardt 1-0-2; Sarah Guay 1-0-2; Nicole Shaefer 0-0-0.
3-point goals: LM: – Natalie Ruel. T – Abby Hurlbert 5.
Records: Lewis Mills 1-0, Thomaston 0-1.