THOMASTON >> In a battle for second place behind five-time defending Berkshire League girls basketball tournament champion Thomaston, No. 2 Nonnewaug and No. 3 Lewis Mills started their semifinal match slowly Monday night, then built to a crescendo.
The Spartans took the first half; Nonnewaug walked away from a second-half thriller with a 36-34 win and the chance to face the Golden Bears one more time this season in Wednesday’s final at Thomaston High School.
Both teams earned their place in the semis with convincing quarterfinal wins Saturday: Nonnewaug with a 51-26 thrashing of No. 7 Shepaug; Mills, a comfortable 37-27 win over No. 6 Gilbert.
No. 4 Wamogo set up the late semifinal match with Thomaston in a 43-41 Saturday win over No. 5 Housatonic, but lost their star, Brooke Neller, to a broken hand in the process.
Thomaston, 20-0 in the league, has crushed almost all league comers, including No. 8 Northwestern, 61-38 Saturday.
Without Neller on Monday, hope for the Warriors against Thomaston – also the two-time defending Class S state champions – went from little to none.
The game played out just that way. The final score was 69-27, Thomaston. The score was 50-6 at the half.
So, in the first game of Monday’s doubleheader, there seemed little motivation for Mills and Nonnewaug. The Chiefs (18-2 in the league), who beat Mills twice during the regular season, suffered 20 and 18-point losses to the Bears, the latest last Thursday.
Lewis Mills offered the one exception to the “league-crushing” saga for Thomaston, with a 36-33 loss at home early last month. Once poked, the Bears returned with a 56-34 mauling a month later.
Incentive for Monday’s first-game semifinal?
“We came out flat,” said Nonnewaug coach Adam Brutting Monday.
“The first half was our best half all year,” said Lewis Mills coach Joe Capitani.
Both sides declared they wanted to face the Bears again.
“We wanted to correct the mistakes we made on Thursday,” said Nonnewaug center Courtney Carlson.
“We wanted another shot,” said Mills Coach Capitani.
Both sides threw up effective 2-3 zones, cutting off most of the inside play they tried on offense.
The advantage went to Mills because they lost a big part of their inside presence when center Samira Abedlrehim went down with a concussion last week.
“It makes us a different team,” said Capitani. “We lose some size in the post, but we gained quickness.”
Nonnewaug’s Carlson (game-high 19 points) got through in the first quarter for eight points amidst a blizzard of forced passes into the middle, then hit just one more hoop in the second.
Meanwhile, Mills’ quickness got its shooters open for four first-half threes – three by team high-scorer Corinne Morrow (14 points) and one by sophomore Gabriela Bagdones.
Carlson led the Chiefs to an 11-9 first-quarter lead. The shooters carried Mills to a 24-15 advantage at the half.
“In the second half, we did much better defensively,” said Nonnewaug’s Brutting.
“In the third quarter, we came out ice cold. In the fourth quarter, they cranked up their defense,” said Capitani. “We didn’t score until (freshman Sam Chadwick) hit her three (with two minutes left in the game).”
With Nonnewaug charging up a 32-29 lead by then, Chadwick’s tying trey set up the game’s final drama.
Nonnewaug sophomore Jen Charette hit her second three of the game, 35-32, Chiefs.
Chadwick struck outside with a two, 35-34, Nonnewaug.
With 10 seconds left, Mills’ defense stole the ball, then missed a three.
With four seconds left, Carlson hit a foul shot, missed the second and teammate Deanna Maurice came down with the rebound, ending the game.
“Thursday, we did a good job on the boards in the first half. In the second half, Thomaston got the rebounds,” said Brutting.
“Wednesday, we’re going to work on rebounding and boxing out,” said Carlson.
That work begins at 7 p.m. at Thomaston High School.
Berkshire League Girls Basketball Tournament Semifinals
No. 2 Nonnewaug 36, No. 3 Lewis Mills 34
At Thomaston High School
Lewis Mills 9 15 5 5 – 34
Nonnewaug 11 4 9 12 – 36
Lewis Mills (34): Corinne Morrow 5-1-14; Alyssa Wrable 4-1-9; Brooklyn Murdick 0-0-0; Sam Chadwick 2-0-5; Gabriela Bagdones 2-1-6; Hannah Rich 0-0-0; Totals: 13-3-34.
Nonnewaug (36): Mary Bibbey 2-0-4; Jennie Wingard 0-0-0; Claire Scherf 0-0-0; Jen Charette 2-0-6; Courtney Carlson 8-3-19; Deanna Maurice 2-0-5; Alexa Eanniello 1-0-2; Totals: 15-3-36.
3-point goals: LM – Morrow 3; Chadwick; Bagdones. N – Charette 2; Maurice.
Records: Lewis Mills 12-8 Berkshire League; 12-10 overall.
Nonnewaug 18-2 Berkshire League; 20-2 overall.
No. 1 Thomaston 69, No. 4 Wamogo 27
At Thomaston High School
Wamogo 1 5 11 10 – 27
Thomaston 27 23 14 5 – 69
Wamogo (27): Emma Weik 0-0-0; Jasmyn Palumbo 2-0-5; Olivia Cook 0-0-0; Emily Kupcho 1-3-6; Morgan Betti 1-0-2; Christina Roy 0-0-0; Kristen Kandefer 0-0-0; rose Kelly 2-1-6; Danielle Tillmann 1-2-4; Cassidy Wilson 0-0-0; Chloe Arnold 1-0-2; Casey Bovat 1-0-2; Totals 7-6-27.
Thomaston (69): Gabrielle Hurlbert 1-1-3; Morgan Sanson 2-0-4; Nicole Shaefer 2-2-8; Charlotte Eberhardt 0-0-0; Sam Brostek 2-0-5; Casey Carangelo 7-3-17; Julia Quinn 6-0-16; Camryn Capaldo 3-2-9; Alexa Milius 0-0-0; Alexa Sanson 0-1-1; Mackenzie Doyle 1-0-2; Drita Coma 0-0-0; Kaitlyn Root 1-1-4; Totals: 25-10-69.
3-point goals: T – Quinn 4; Schaefer 2; Capaldo; Root; Brostek.
Records: Wamogo 12-8 Berkshire League; 13-9 overall; Thomaston 20-0 Berkshire League; 21-1 overall.
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