Classical girls basketball coach Tom Sawyer has a list of his objectives for his team and No. 1 on the list is “players make plays.”
“That’s what we ask our kids to do,” said Sawyer. “If you have an opportunity to make a play, go out and make a play and we’ll live with whatever happens.”
In the season opener at Revere, Classical sophomore Ava Thurman made a full-court dash at the end of regulation time to tie the game at the buzzer. Classical then went on to defeat Revere, 59-57 in overtime.
Play of the day
It wouldn’t be an overstatement to call Ava Thurman’s game-tying basket one of the most spectacular plays in the program’s history – which is saying something when you consider the exploits of such former stars as Helen Ridley Ashe, Monique Lee, and Ashley Donovan, who once hit a long-range shot that kept Classical’s 20-0 regular season perfect.
Revere’s Carolina Carvalho-Bettero swished two free throws with 5.3 seconds left to give Revere a 55-53 lead, Classical’s Sailor Brinkler inbounded the ball to Thurman, who quickly dribbled between two Revere defenders at midcourt and drove toward the basket. A Revere defender was waiting to impede her path to a layup and Thurman launched a floater that hit the back rim and then went through the net as the buzzer, tying the game at 55-55.
Thurman scored Classical’s points in overtime on a drive down the lane and a steal and left-handed layup. The 5-foot-5-inch guard finished with 24 points.
Sailor Brinker, making an auspicious debut to her senior season, had 10 points. Junior Molly Mannion also made a sold contribution with eight points.
Lauren Hennessey also excelled for Classical with a huge basket late in regulation to set the stage for Thurman’s heroics. Amelia Pedro, Reese Brinkler, and Lauren Wilson also contributed well to “a total team effort,” said Coach Tom Sawyer.
“I can’t be any prouder of these kids,” said Coach Tom Sawyer after the game. “Not to play basketball together for a year and then show up two weeks ago, to work so hard to get prepared – the enjoyment of wanting to play and then coming to Revere, we pressed the whole game – it’s just an amazing testament to their fortitude, to be able to play with that intensity for the whole game.
“And we made just enough shots to win,” added Sawyer.
During her game-tying dash to the basket, Ava Thurman dribbled the basketball in front of the Classical bench.
“When Ava got in front of me and avoided that traffic right at midcourt, I told her, ‘you got time,’’’ related Sawyer. “And she had just enough time. Right at the buzzer – it doesn’t get any better than that in the first game in a pandemic after the kids not playing basketball for a year.”
Said Helen Ridley Ashe about Thurman’s 24-point performance: “I think Ava’s basketball IQ is very good and she really enjoys being coached and is very competitive. This year she’s a sophomore and it looks like, ‘it’s my team and I’m ready.”
A new number
on her Classical jersey
Ava Thurman is wearing No. 10 on her Classical basketball jersey this season after wearing No. 40 in her freshman year.
Ava’s father, Boston College All-American football player Tony Thurman, wore that number during his career with the Eagles.
“I love my dad – I have his number this year for basketball,” said Ava. “I didn’t like No. 40 in the beginning and when I heard my dad’s number was available, of course I wanted to take it.”
Tony Thurman and his BC teammates, including Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie, did what few college teams have been able to accomplish today: BC defeated the University of Alabama on their way to the Eagles’ victory in the Cotton Bowl.
The Final Dash
Ava said she was aware of the 5.3 seconds on the clock before she took the inbounds pass from Sailor Brinkler.
“I knew the time left and it was a little nerve-wracking,” said Ava. “I think as a team we worked really well and the passion and intensity to win was really there. And I think we did great. Each of my teammates played amazing basketball. Our freshman, Lauren Wilson, played great, too. I’m just really proud of my team today.”