UNCASVILLE — After three quarters, the Canton High girls basketball team had shot 18 percent from the floor in Saturday morning’s Class S championship against Thomaston at the Mohegan Sun Arena. Yet, the Warriors trailed by just five points.
Twice, Thomaston had leads of 13 points in the second quarter. But as the final seconds of this state title game counted down, there was Canton with opportunities to win. The Canton fans thundered when Maggie Treacy drained a three-point shot with 52 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to cut the Thomaston lead to two.
“I said, wow, we can actually do this,” Treacy recalled with a smile.
A steal by Canton’s Abbe Skinner with 36 seconds left gave the Warriors the chance to tie or take the lead. Emily Briggs’ shot with 22 seconds left was off the rim and Thomaston’s Gabrielle Hurlbert tipped the rebound out to teammate Casey Carangelo to allow the Bears to control it.
Treacy had a block with nine seconds left but the Bears once again were able to control the ball. After her block, Treacy grabbed the ball out of the air but she had part of her foot on the end line so she was out of bounds.
Thomaston played with the guile and confidence of a champion as they outlasted pesky Canton, 52-50 to win their second straight Class S championship before a few thousand fans. Thomaston’s Nicole Schaefer, who was scoreless in last year’s double OT win over St. Paul, scored 11 points and drained three 3-point field goals. Julia Quinn scored 12 points and added a two back-breaking three-point shots, too.
“They hit some nice shots,” Treacy said. “Every time, we thought we were back in it, they hit a big three.”
Briggs led the Warriors (22-5) with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Treacy finished 15 points while Gabby Rose chipped in with 11 points and pulled down eight rebounds. Canton had 18 steals and forced 29 Thomaston turnovers. But they couldn’t get the lead.
“They killed us from the outside,” Canton coach Brian Medeiros said. “They got more three’s than I anticipated.” Thomaston was 6-of-10 from three-point range.
“It was a battle,” he said. “We played to the final whistle. A bounce here, a bounce there and the outcome could have been reversed. We battled to the end.”
Slow starts have hurt Canton and the Bears led by as many as 13 points in the second quarter. The Warriors made just 2 of 15 shots in the first half and 5 of 29 in the first half (17.2 percent). Credit Thomaston’s physical defense and good rebounding. But Thomaston only led by seven at halftime, 25-18.
“I kept reminding them that you’re down seven (at halftime) and you didn’t play well,” Medeiros said. “When you start playing well, that is when you’ll start getting them into trouble. And that happened in the second half.”
Canton’s shooting didn’t improve in the third quarter (3-of-15) but the Warriors had six steals and climbed back into the game. Jacquie Grabowski hit a foul shot with 1:57 remaining in the third quarter to cap a 7-0 run that cut the Thomaston lead to one, 29-28. Thomaston’s Casey Carangelo hit a foul shot to extend the lead to one but Scaefer drained a three-pointer with 16 seconds left in the quarter to push the lead back to four, 33-28 after three quarters.
“They all turned out to be big ones,” Thomaston coach Bob McMahon said of the Bears’ outside shooting touch. “Canton did an awesome job. I really thought we could pull away. But whether it was us shooting ourselves in the foot or (Canton) grinding it out, they did a heck of a job of staying in it. They pushed it right to the brink.”
Thomaston led by 13 points, 23-10, with 3:08 left in the second quarter when Canton fought back. Treacy drove the basket for two points and Grabowski intercepted a Thomaston pass. Skinner drained a jumper with 2:21 left to cut the lead to nine, 23-14. Treacy and Briggs sank foul shots to cut the Thomaston lead at halftime to seven, 25-18.
In the fourth quarter, Canton cut the lead to three, 33-30 on a layup by Briggs only to see Quinn drain another three-pointer to push the lead back to six.
Thomaston led by 10 with 4:27 remaining but Canton wouldn’t go away. Emma Charron and Gabby Rose each sank two foul shots and Briggs scored on a layup with 3:23 left to cut the lead to five, 49-45. But Quinn again drained a three-pointer to extend the lead to eight, 52-45, with 2:45 remaining.
Canton persisted. Treacy hit a free throw with 1:25 left and Rose hit two more with 1:23 left to cut the lead to five, 52-47.Sanson missed two free throws with 1:08 left and Canton controlled the ball. Treacy hit her three-point shot with 52 seconds to cut the lead to two, 52-50 but that would be as close as Canton would get.
NOTES: Canton falls to 0-3 in state championship games. … This was Thomaston’s third Class S title. They beat St. Paul in double overtime a year ago and won in 1993. … Grabowski fouled out of the game while Briggs, Rose and Treacy each finished the game with four fouls. Briggs played the final 6:41 with four fouls. Treacy played in the final 4:53 with four fouls.
Thomaston 52, Canton 50
Thomaston (52): Nicole Schaefer 4 0-0 11, Gabrielle Hurlbert 3 0-4 7, Morgan Sanson 3 7-11 13, Charlotte Eberhardt 1-0-2, Casey Carangelo 1 3-4 5, Julia Quinn 3 4-5 12, Alexa Millus 0-0-0, Samantha Brostek 1 0-2 2. Totals 16 14-26 52
Canton (50): Katie Walker 1 0-0 2, Jacquie Grabowski 0-0-0, Emily Briggs 7 2-2 18, Maggie Treacy 3 8-13 15, Gabby Rose 2 7-10 11, Emma Charron 0 2-2 2, Abbe Skinner 1-0-2, Carly Atkinson 0-0-0. Totals 14 19-27 50
Thomaston (23-3) 16 9 8 19 – 52
Canton (22-5) 8 10 10 22 — 50
Three-point goals: Schaefer (T) 3-6, Hurlbert (T) 1-2, Quinn (T) 2-2; Grabowski (C) 0-1, Briggs (C) 2-2, Treacy (C) 1-4, Charron (C) 0-1