TERRYVILLE — Rivalry night in the Berkshire League turned into a virtual no contest at Terryville Friday night as a close first quarter ended with three straight steals by Sean O’Donnell off a full-court Terryville press and continuing Kangaroo pressure sailed the game into a 64-40 rout against neighboring Thomaston.
Senior forward Dylan Matulis benefited with a game-high 22 points.
Rangy guard Dominick Dao (17 points) turned the pressure into an explosion starting the third quarter with four straight steals and a personal 8-0 run that blew a 23-11 half-time lead into a 33-11 goodbye.
“Their (2-3 zone) defense was pretty good in the first quarter, but our pressure started giving us open looks,” Terryville coach Mark Fowler said.
“They just whipped our butts today; they had way more energy than we did,” said Thomaston coach A.J. Bunel, whose Golden Bears played without two of their best ball handlers, senior guards Brendan Fainer and Chad Suckley.
Thomaston guard Mike Genovese tried to fill the gap with a team-high 15 points, but his three 3-pointers came in the second half after the Kangaroos were literally running away with the game.
The outcome was all the more stunning because, of the Berkshire League’s bona fide neighbor clashes, notably including Gilbert/Northwestern and Litchfield/Wamogo, Thomaston/Terryville competition is often the fiercest.
“It gets handed down each year and the players think it’s a little extra,” said Fowler, who played for Terryville.
“The hard part is convincing the kids it’s just another game,” said Bunel, who led Gilbert in its own fierce clashes against Northwestern.
“It’s 100 percent real,” O’Donnell said.
Playing in a no-fans gym thanks to Covid-19 protocols, Bunel thought it might be different this year.
“It lets the kids concentrate more on the game,” he said, glad the extra stands to accommodate the usual packed gym were absent.
But this time, Kangaroo concentration ruled. Hosting a Golden Bear team that started out 2-0, including a narrow win over three-time defending league champion Wamogo, Terryville fumed over its own close opening loss to Northwestern.
“They pressed us and we didn’t have enough energy,” Dao said.
The Kangaroos made up for that on Friday, pressing for almost two straight quarters with few substitutions on a short-handed team.
“You get used to the masks,” Matulis said. “Our practices are harder than the games because we get more breaks in a game and you’ve got more adrenaline.”
Friday, the Kangaroos played as if they were born with masks — and as if they were determined to stamp out a great rivalry for good.