By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – Beating an opponent in basketball the first time around is one thing. But trying to do it a second time – in the same building, on the same opponent’s floor – is never an easy thing to duplicate.
And in a game that’s all about adjustments, moves and counter moves, the game of hoop – in the end – turns out to be a big old game of human chess.
If you move all the pieces in the right way, you win.
When the Thomaston boys basketball team came into St. Paul’s house on Jan. 30, the Golden Bears walked out of the gym as 66-50 victors.
St. Paul was not about to allow that to occur again this year.
Fast forward to the first round of the Class S tournament on Tuesday, March 5, a rematch between the two teams quickly ensued.
But the mistakes that the Falcons made against Thomaston in its non-conference affair back in January weren’t quickly forgotten.
And, this time around, the home team held firm and advanced in tournament action with a stirring victory.
St. Paul’s Brendan Carroll and Tyler Jones combined for 30 points as the Falcons picked off the Golden Bears 59-52 from the Maltby Street Gymnasium to move on in the postseason.
The Falcons won its 12th contest of the campaign while No. 18 Thomaston ended the year at 13-11 but certainly was a tough opponent from the Berkshire League this past season.
With the win, No. 15 St. Paul (12-10) advanced to play the second=ranked team in all of Class S – Classical Magnet – in a tournament challenge from Connecticut’s Rising Star, Hartford.
The Golden Bears trailed by three points late in the showdown but off some missed opportunities by the visiting squad, St. Paul closed out the game off a bit of a run.
Carroll hit several critical free throws late in the final period as hit marksmanship maintained the Falcons margin as Thomaston missed several hoops in the end that would have kept the pressure on.
Overall, Carroll led St. Paul with 16 points while Jones added 14 points in a very balanced scoring effort.
Clever Kyle Dube put in a solid night of work that consisted of 13 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists while Jake Kawiecki sank home two three-pointers and notched six points in the victorious effort.
Jordan Rowley also added six points and helped lead a very good defensive charge as Thomaston scored 14 fewer points than it did during that impressive 66-50 win back in January.
Brothers Alex and Drew Gagne combined for 40 points for the Golden Bears while Drew netted a game high of 21 points.
One of St. Paul’s adjustments came from the three-point stripe as Jack Kelly – who canned five three-pointers in Thomaston’s winning effort during the regular season – didn’t notch a point in the game.
Andrew Stern added 10 points for the Golden Bears. But in the end, that lack of offense hurt the visitors and led to the first round exit.
St. Paul led 12-11 out the first period gate and outscored Thomaston 17-15 in the second period to hoist up a 29-26 halftime push.
The visitors were only down a single possession to open the third quarter of action but off an 18-11 burst by the home team, St. Paul opened up a 47-37 cushion with eight minutes remaining.
Thomaston made late hoops to trim that deficit into a three-point edge for St. Paul but in the end, Carroll hit those critical foul shots to ice the game and send the Falcons further on into the tournament.