SOUTHBURY >> No. 1 Thomaston’s size and defensive savvy overwhelmed No. 4 Kolbe Cathedral from start to finish in a 59-37 Class S girls basketball semifinal win at Pomperaug High School Monday night.
“They were superb defensively,” said Thomaston coach Bob McMahon.
The Bears will face No. 3 Canton, 43-34 winners over No. 2 Bolton in the Class S championship game at Mohegan Sun. It’s a rematch of last year’s final, won by Thomaston. The day and time has yet to be announced.
The Cougars’ reputation coming into the semifinals was “big and quick.”
“They were everything they were supposed to be; our kids had something to do with slowing them down,” said McMahon.
Thomaston senior forward Morgan Sanson headed for her game-high 20 points from the opening tap. Stanson scored the first two baskets of the game, then stole the ball as a taste of things to come for the Cougars.
Six foot Golden Bear center Casey Carangelo took care of the “big” question. The Cougars have good-sized players, but nobody in Carangelo’s league for height and athleticism.
Early in the first quarter, Carangelo, on her way to 19 points, went to the foul line after Kolbe’s Gracen Kerr (team-high 12 points) scored the Cougar’s first points on a three.
Leading 5-3, big athletic guard Gabrielle Hulbert came in with another part of the Thomaston formula – a steal and her own put-back.
When Thomaston forward Charlotte Eberhardt upped the final first-quarter lead to 15-7 on a layup following a Hurlbert block, the night already looked dark for the Cougars.
Even better for the Golden Bears’ hopes for a third straight Class S title, it was far from Thomaston’s best night offensively.
The Bears missed lots of layups early in the game; a team that can make opponents dizzy with threes on a given night only made two – both by Nicole Schaefer.
Instead, the formula that’s carried them through five straight Berkshire League championships and four straight trips to the Mohegan Sun never let them down: aggressiveness, tenacity and teamwork.
“It was a total team effort tonight,” said McMahon.
Thanks to their swarming help man-to-man defense, the Bears had the trip to the Sun in the bag by halftime, outscoring the Cougars 19-7 in the second quarter.
As opponents get desperate, resorting to forced shots, Thomaston’s offense improves.
In the second quarter, Julia Quinn went to the line for two; Nicole Schaefer hit the first of her two threes; Sanson poured in six more; Carangelo had eight.
The lead was 34-15. In spite of a full-court Cougar press for much of the second half, the Bears were traveling that familiar road to southeast Connecticut.
“Our senior kinda think they’re supposed to do it, but it’s great for the others as well,” said McMahon.
No. 1 Thomaston 59, No. 4 Kolbe Cathedral 37
At Pomperaug High School
Kolbe Cathedral 7 8 11 11 – 37
Thomaston 15 19 15 10 – 59
Kolbe Cathedral (37): Tatiana Joseph 0-0-0; Tiana Moraes 0-0-0; Gracen Kerr 5-0-12; Arysel Flores 0-1-1; Jescie Holmes 0-0-0; Trinity Bravo 4-2-11; Kayla Weaver 3-2-8; Beatrice Honorio 0-0-0; Naomi Harris 0-0-0; Shiniya Stancil 2-1-5; Totals: 14-5-37.
Thomaston (59): Julia Quinn 0-2-2; Nicole Schaefer 2-0-6; Danielle Genest 0-0-0; Gabrielle Hurlbert 3-0-6; Alexa Sanson 0-0-0; Morgan Sanson 9-2-20; Charlotte Eberhardt 1-0-2; Camryn Capaldo 1-0-2; Alexa Milius 0-0-0; Kaitlyn Root 0-0-0; Samantha Brostek 1-0-2; Casey Carangelo 8-3-19; Totals: 25-7-59.
3-point goals: KC – Kerr 2; Bravo 2. T – Schaefer 2.
Records: Kolbe Cathedral 19-7; Thomaston 26-1.