Girls Basketball Class S Championship
Canton 60, Thomaston 51
By Larry Kelley
Special to CIACsports.com
UNCASVILLE – Rarely does a first-quarter buzzer beating three-pointer carry as much impact as Canton’s Emily Briggs’ running one-handed trey in the Class S girls’ basketball championship Saturday morning.
Briggs’ 25-foot toss gave Canton a 15-9 lead after one quarter. Thomaston never got closer than six the rest of the way, and Canton won the Class S rubber match, 60-51, in the third straight final between the two schools. Canton lost 52-50 two years ago and won 64-51 last year.
Briggs, a 5-11 senior forward who scored a game-high 24 points, is not a good 3-pointer shooter, according to coach Brian Medeiros. But he felt the last-second shot was a catalyst in the Warriors’ second straight state championship win.
“We never looked back after that,” Medeiros said. “The three is not a big part of her game, but I was pleased that we worked the last few seconds to get a decent shot off instead of heaving a half-court shot as we have in the past. That shot was a lift.”
Third-seeded Canton improved to 22-3. The back-to-back titles are the only ones in school history. Coach Bob McMahon watched fifth-seed Thomaston fall to 20-5 this season and 3-6 in title games. He agreed that Briggs’ first-quarter buzzer beater was crucial.
“It was a killer,” McMahon said. “We missed a three with seven seconds left that would have tied it then they come down and all of a sudden they’re up six. It was early, but we never truly recovered from it. The shot was a killer.”
Both teams were familiar with each other despite playing in different conferences. Canton, from the North Central Connecticut Conference, felt it had a good scouting report on the Golden Bears from the Berkshire League.
“We knew a lot of their players were playing in their first final despite the fact they’ve been here before,” Medeiros said. “We wanted to limit Julia Quinn and Casey Carangelo and make others beat us. There were no secrets today. It came down to us doing little things: making free throws, defending and boxing out.”
Quinn (23 points) and the 6-foot Carangelo (15) scored 38 of Thomaston’s 51, but they combined to shoot 13 of 42. Carengelo struggled against the defense of Canton’s 6-3 sophomore Sarah Bowman, who blocked three shots and altered many others.
After Briggs’ first-quarter three, Canton went on a 16-6 run to lead 28-15. Belle Magna (10 points) hit a three to make it 30-17 with a minute left, but Bowman picked up her third foul with 44 seconds left to slow the Warriors’ roll.
Bowman began the third quarter on the bench, but Canton led 34-22 when she re-entered with 4:48 left. Thomaston crept closer as Quinn, a 5-2 point guard, scored six straight to cut the gap to 41-34 after three quarters.
Canton answered with an 8-0 run, keyed by Briggs’ three straight hoops, to open it up to 49-34 with 5:10 left. Quinn’s three cut it to 49-42 with 3:37 left, but Canton made enough free throws (13 of 21 overall) to keep things from getting too interesting in the final minutes.
Abby Charron added 15 points and six assists for Canton, which shot 48 percent (23 of 48) from the field. Bowman had just one basket but made her presence felt, forcing Carangelo to make 5 of 21 shots. Canton made just one 3-pointer, but the early trey proved to be a big one.
“It was definitely a momentum shift,” Briggs said. “We felt comfortable today. We’ve been here before and the stage was not too big for us.”