Andover Golden Warriors Girls Basketball '07-'08

Tue, Mar 11, 2008 07:45 PM @ Neutral Location - TD Banknorth Garden
Team Final
Playoff Game Division 1 - State Semifinals
Andover 61
New Bedford 34
Roger Darrigrand, Staff PhotographerMore photos

For Thomann, a shot at redemption

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Wednesday, March, 12 By Alan Siegel
Staff writer

Every great shooter goes through slumps from time to time. Before last night, Andover's Meghan Thomann was mired in one.

"It gets kind of frustrating," she said. "I've always been taught to keep shooting. (Coach Jim) Tildsley will kill me if I don't keep shooting. You just have to keep shooting, and they'll fall."

It's a mentality shared by shooters at all levels, from NBA all-time 3-point king Reggie Miller to Central Catholic sharpshooter Billy Marsden. Usually, it works. It certainly did for Thomann, who scored 17 points to lead the Golden Warriors to their first Division 1 Eastern Massachusetts title since 2004.

The 5-foot-7 senior went an economical 5 for 10 from the floor, hitting three 3-pointers. Tildsley knew it was just a matter of time before Thomann began to heat up.

"Once Meghan starts hitting her shots," Tildsley remembered saying recently, "we'll really start killing teams."

Leading up to the 61-34 drubbing of New Bedford, her state-tournament stat line was redundant: three points against Medford; 10 against Malden; 10 against Lowell, and 10 against Central Catholic. She needed to break out.

"It was more in her head than anything else," said senior Laura Renfro, who scored 15 points. "Her shot is always on."

Thomann knew TD Banknorth Garden was a tough place to shoot for a high schooler. The wide-open floor plan (the seats usually filling the end zones at Celtics games are removed), combined with apprehension caused by playing in an NBA arena, creates a difficult setting. Plus, there's no real backdrop to focus on.

"The depth perception is kind of off. That's tough," Thomann said. "A lot of gyms are like that. The Lowell gym is kind of like that."

Also, during a charity game this fall at the Garden, she struggled. If the rim expanded to the size of an above-ground pool, she wouldn't have been able to hit it.

"I had the worst shooting night ever. I could not make one shot," she said. "I was kind of nervous because of that."

Her nervousness subsided in time for last night's game. She took things slowly, making sure to look down at her feet before she launched an NBA trey, which is 23-9 as compared to the high school distance of 19-9.

"I just made sure I didn't get confused by the 3-point lines and moved in," she said with a laugh.

Thomann scored nine first-half points, including one jumper from beyond the arc. Breaking out, finding her stroke | or at least not feeling like the rim is the size of a Skippy jar | wasn't easy.

"It can be hard if you let it get to you mentally," Renfro said. "But if you just keep shooting, it's going to fall eventually."

There's that mantra again. Keep shooting. That's what Thomann's season's been about, firing back after falling down. A pesky knee injury sidelined her before Christmas and during the Greater Lawrence Christmas Tournament. It gnawed at her.

"It was tough at the beginning of the year," she said. "I'd have an injury, then I'd hurt my knee again." At this point, the Bentley recruit is glad to be back on track.

"My shot has been off the past couple games," she said. "I knew it was there. I just had to keep shooting. I'm happy about that."

So are the rest of her teammates, especially forward Camille Fantini and center Lauren Hughes.

"When her shots are falling makes it easy for everybody else," said Hughes, who finished with 11 points and 15 rebounds.

Fantini smiled when asked about Thomann's performance. "Awesome," she said. "It was a highlight of tonight."

There was no cloud of smoke, but once again, there was magic for Thomann. Neither injury nor a shooting slump could keep her down for long. Fantini is well aware of that.

"After tonight, you'd never know (she'd been injured)," Fantini said. "She's fully back."

That's right, Thomann is back. Opponent, time, place | it doesn't matter. She'll be ready.

"Once you get out here, it is just a game," Thomann said. "It doesn't matter where you're playing."

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