THOMASTON — A Thomaston 54-29 win over Northwestern Saturday afternoon completed a resounding sweep over the Berkshire League’s eight other girls basketball teams, including four of the league’s top teams in the last five days.
The feat earned Thomaston the official regular-season BL championship, thanks to an agreed-upon league plan to pit every team against every other team in the first eight games, then complete the Coronivirus-shortened 12-game regular-season schedule with a random mix of four other teams.
The winner of the eight-game portion of the season would be declared champion.
Even without such an ingenious plan, the Golden Bears would have been a unanimous choice for midseason champion. Their 8-0 record is enhanced by a 422-139 scoring margin against the rest of the league.
Northwestern came to Thomaston High School Saturday with a 4-1 record and the last chance to stop the Golden Bear avalanche.
The Highlanders began feeling Thomaston’s power two minutes into the game, when the Bears turned a 4-3 lead into an 11-2 run including two steals and dominance on the backboards.
The first quarter ended at 15-9, but Thomaston’s Emma Kahn, the game’s high scorer with 18 points, had two of her three 3’s for the day and Emma Sanson, with 16 points, followed with her best quarter in the second period.
Even so, the Bears’ defense was the most consistently impressive part of Thomaston’s widening gap to a 29-17 halftime lead.
“Our offense all comes from our defense,” said Kahn. “It makes us just get out and play.”
The Bears are famous for their full-court pressure, but a huge part of their rebounding dominance and consistent advantage in turnovers Saturday came from overwhelming quickness by every player even in a half-court defensive set.
“We do a lot of bonding activities. Our energy feeds off each other,” said Sanson.
“They just went out and got it today,” said Coach Bob McMahon, who led his teams to two state championships and five straight state finals appearances in the last eight years with the same formula.
“Defense wins games; offense determines by how much,” said assistant coach Brian Mozelak.
Saturday’s third quarter could have put the formula up in neon lights, certainly for Northwestern, despite the team-high 12 points from Highlander Natalie Brodnitzki in the rest of the game.
The Highlanders, a good team with a legendary coach in league president Fred Williams, were held scoreless for the third period for the first time in recent memory while the Bears sped away to an unreachable 45-17 lead and an official mid-season championship.
In a year in which everyone hates the word uncertain, the prospect of an undefeated season and a post-season BL Tournament championship is potential added jewels for a crown well won.