WINSTED >> For the third straight season the Golden Bears will going to the Berkshire League Tournament finals and for the third straight year they will be looking to come with the title after defeating Nonnewaug, 50-42, in the semifinals.
Thomaston led for the entire game but late in the third quarter the Chiefs began to claw back cutting their deficit to six with 3:45 left in the third quarter. The Chiefs looked ready to make it a close game but Thomaston’s Nicole Schaefer had other plans.
Up seven with under a minute left in the quarter, the Golden Bears passed the ball around the key looking for an open shot, but one never appeared and with the time winding down Schaefer took a contested shot, with Nonnewaug’s 5-foot-11 center Courtney Carlson in her face.
“Any shot Thomaston takes is a good shot,” smiled Schaefer a sophomore.
“Big shot, we want Nicole to look for that shot,” said Thomaston head coach Bob McMahon. “She showed us that she wants it, you haven’t seen the best of her yet.”
The shot would go in and the Golden Bears would take a 10 point lead into the final quarter.
“It made it tough for us to continue to come back,” said Nonnewaug head coach Adam Brutting. “Nicole was huge for them.”
Schafer who starts for the Golden Bears isn’t one of their primary scorers, with a team that includes Abby Hurlbert and Morgan Sanson, but her and a couple of her teammates were able to step up to help lift them to victory.
“Nicole was tremendous tonight,” said McMahon. “(Bryttnie) Thomas was true to form and Charlie (Eberhardt) had two huge baskets in a row.”
The game was close the entire way, Thomaston took a 9-6 lead after one then 23-18 at halftime before Schaefer’s shot.
In the fourth quarter the Chiefs were kept afloat by junior Jess Fengler who scored 11 of her game high 19 points in the quarter.
“We got into Jess and Megan’s (Mitchell) ears and told both of them to work on getting to the basket,” said Brutting. “We told Jess that she had to take ‘X’ amount of shots tonight.”
It wasn’t enough though; as the Golden Bears held on, going 8-10 from the free-throw line down to stretch to ice the game and beat the Chiefs for the third time this season.
Thomaston will head to the finals and will play Lewis Mills on Friday night, 7 p.m. at Northwestern.
“I could care less who we play,” McMahon said after the Golden Bears win.
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