THOMASTON >> Is there a high school basketball fan in the state who hasn’t heard of Abby Hurlbert?
Perhaps, but not if they were at the Mohegan Sun for the CIAC’s championship weekend.
Hurlbert’s team fought back from deficits in regulation and two overtimes for Thomaston’s first girls basketball championship since 1993.
The most dramatic of the Golden Bear comebacks came in the first overtime. With .2 seconds left, down three, Hurlbert drew a foul on a 3-point try, walked to the line and poured in three straight foul shots for the tie that took Thomaston through one more OT to the championship.
Of all the great plays in the weekend, boys and girls, that one will be remembered forever.
So, it’s not hard to pin down Hurlbert’s favorite memory from four years of Thomaston varsity basketball.
“Obviously, it’s making it to Mohegan two years in a row,” she grinned. “It’s been an awesome journey. It stinks that it already over. This is my favorite (sports) season.”
Hurlbert was the area’s MVP field hockey player in the fall. She’s a lights-out softball pitcher/star infielder in the spring.
But basketball still puts the glitter in her eyes. She broke her wrist as a freshman while the team won the first of three Berkshire League titles in her four years, along with three BL Tournament titles.
Reflecting the Bears’ gritty spirit, Hurlbert relishes this final season for her own career 1,000-point mark, sure, but the biggest thrill for the 5-foot-10 guard/forward was leading her team back from “being almost out of the league (title race), then showing everyone we could do it,” she said. “All the people I’ve played with have grown to become even better.”
For Hurlbert, it’s a matter of Thomaston basketball tradition.
“Each year, I’ve had leaders show me what Thomaston basketball is. This year, I just wanted to be a leader for them.”
Like the UConn women’s team with their legion of Connecticut fans, Thomaston’s girls basketball team has a love affair with its community.
“We have awesome coaches, teammates and fans,” says Hurlbert, whose school involvement goes far beyond sports.
She’s a high honor roll student and president of the Thomaston Student Council.
“I get really involved in school. I really like Thomaston High School; it’s small and individual.”
Hurlbert plans to play basketball in college, whether it’s D-I, D-II or D-III.
Further out, one of her considerations is the possibility of a coaching or athletic director career.
Thomaston High School has offered the role models.
“I can’t even express how much my coaches have done,” she said. “It’s not just basketball, but being an individual. They’re always there for you. From my freshman year, I’ve changed as a person and a player.”
Throughout, the girls basketball team has been a family, sometimes literally. This year, Abby’s sister Gabby is the starting point guard, cousin Morgan Sanford is a starting forward. Both are sophomores.
Back-to-back trips to Mohegan Sun add maturity.
“The second time wasn’t as intimidating,” said Hurlbert. “Last year, we soaked it up. This year, we went for business with the end goal in mind. And, obviously, we were not going to stop until we got there.”