THOMASTON >> No. 1 Thomaston pulled away from No. 9 Classical Magnet in the fourth quarter to a 60-47 Class S Girls Basketball Quarterfinal win at Thomaston Tuesday night.
Three straight steals by Gabrielle Hurlbert and another by Julia Quinn combined with a pair of threes by Casey Carangelo and Quinn for the final push.
Before that, Gladiator Coach Rickey Flagg said it best: “(My team) played like gladiators tonight. That was one of the best games we’ve played all year.”
“They’re a good team,” endorsed Thomaston’s Morgan Sanson.
But, if Classical played like gladiators for most of the game, Golden Bear Coach Bob McMahon put the “warrior” tag on Thomaston center Carangelo.
“Casey was solid down the stretch – not just on offense, but rebounding and on the boards,” he said.
Carangelo finished with 16 points.
Sanson carried the Bears for much of the first half, finishing with a game-high 20.
“Morgan was her All-State self,” grinned McMahon.
On a cold-shooting night from outside (just three 3-pointers for the normally prolific Bears), Thomaston needed all its other assets just to stay with the Gladiators in the first half.
“I’m real proud of the way (Classical) played team basketball,” said Coach Flagg.
With the exception of center Jada Douglas (team-high 14 points), Classical is quick and small.
“In the first half, we weren’t playing team defense,” said Carangelo.
That meant quick cuts and open looks for the Gladiators while Hurlbert (11 points) and Carangelo forced their way inside amidst lots of misses from the perimeter.
The combination produced deadlocks for two quarters – 16-16 after one; 29-29 at the half.
“They pushed us to the brink and we had just enough answers,” said Coach McMahon.
“In the second half, our defense was awesome and we went to the open man,” said Carangelo.
Consistently through the third period, that was Carangelo, cutting for a pass for a layup or drawing a foul from Douglas.
Nevertheless, the brink was still in sight.
Thomaston led 44-42 at the end of the third quarter on a three-footer by Charlotte Eberhardt, then lost the lead again on a three by Classical’s Holly Weldon (11 points).
That summoned the warrior mode from Thomaston.
Sanson fought through three Thomaston rebounds for a put-back; Carangelo had a put-back, then nailed her three, 51-45.
“Everybody was tired, but I think momentum had something to do with it also,” said Flagg.
The Golden Bears had that.
Two steals by Hurlbert led to Quinn’s three, surging the Thomaston lead to 54-45, 3:34 left in the game.
Quinn’s steal on the next Gladiator possession kept Thomaston momentum alive, taking more air from the Classical hopes.
Finally, with 2:02 left in the game, Classical had to foul to stop the clock.
Quinn made one shot; Hurlbert made another, then grabbed the Classical inbounds pass for a layup.
At 58-45, 48 seconds left, it was over.
“We helped each other be better players,” said Coach Flagg, “but sometimes trying your best isn’t good enough. You just have to go back and try your best again next time.”
The Golden Bears are certain to use the winning variation of that theme when they play No. 4 Kolbe Cathedral in next Monday’s Class S Semifinals at a neutral site yet to be named
No. 1 Thomaston 60, No. 9 Classical Magnet 47
At Thomaston High School
Classical 16 13 13 5 – 47
Thomaston 16 13 15 16 – 60
Classical (47): Kylah Langston 3-3-9 Kyrah Walker 0-0-0; Jennah Roman 1-1-4; Holly Weldon 4-2-11; Amani Boland 0-0-0; Emily Haythorn 4-0-9; Jada Douglas 6-2-14; Totals: 18-8-47.
Thomaston (60): Julia Quinn 1-5-8; Nicole Schaefer 1-0-3; Danielle Genest 0-0-0; Gabrielle Hurlbert 5-1-11; Morgan Sanson 7-6-20; Charlotte Eberhardt 1-0-2; Camryn Capaldo 0-0-0; Alexa Milius 0-0-0; Casey Carangelo 5-5-16; Totals: 20-17-60.
3-point goals: C – Roman; Weldon; Haythorn. T – Quinn; Schaefer; Carangelo.
Records: Classical Magnet 15-8; Thomaston 25-1.