Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Thomas to Play College Ball at St. Lawrence

Bishop Brady senior Sarah Thomas is a hard working, blue collar player. She's not a flashy player, she just quietly goes out there, gets the job done and has developed into one of the best all-around players in New Hampshire. Thomas is an all-state selection and has led the Giants to a pair of Final Four appearances. Thomas will continue playing basketball in college, recently committing to St. Lawrence University in New York.

"When I first began the college search, I didn't know what I wanted to study and I wasn't too keen on how big/small of a school I wanted" said Thomas, a 5-foot-7 combo-guard. "The only driving factor I had to go by was basketball. So the search began very broad. St. Mike's, USM, Wheaton, Endicott, Babson, Colby, Bates, Bowdoin, and of course SLU had all approached me. I exchanged a number of emails and phone calls, went on tons of campus tours and met with numerous coaches. Some schools I was even able to play with the girls or watch a practice. Every school I visited had lots too offer. I had a really difficult time narrowing down the search. In the end, however, I chose the school that had the all around best fit for me. St. Lawrence, with basketball set aside, had all the qualities I was looking for in a school: a beautiful campus, upbeat campus life, engaged students, a great academic reputation, and diverse course selections. Basketball was the icing on the cake. I enjoyed the players I met. The coaching staff was very friendly and easy to communicate with. Head Coach Dan Roiger was very honest in his conversations with me. He and Coach Devon Shea are very likable and seem engaged in the players lives. They want to win. They want to be a Sweet 16 national team. In his 5 years as coach SLU has gone 57-15 in the Liberty League. They are the only team to make the play-offs each season. They have 2 league titles and 1 championship which gets you into the Nationals. I feel SLU gives me a good chance to get to the Nationals each year. This separates them from some of the other schools I visited."

Thomas is confident she will fit right in with the team at St. Lawrence and help them win games.

"I had the opportunity to watch the team practice in the beginning of their season" Thomas told the NH Notebook. "All the drills they run are ones that I was familiar with and am excited to be a part of next year. Both their offense and defense fit exactly into my style of play - high intensity and continual motion. They play high pressure man to man defense. On offense they run a set rather than a specific play. I like this a lot because it allows you to react to what the defense is giving you or even to create something yourself. Judging on my past history with specific plays, a lot of the times passes, shots, drives, etc. are forced because you are told that's what the play is. It becomes very predictable. With a set, however, there is more freedom to read the defense and create from there. I'll be playing mostly the 2 guard. That's where I am most comfortable - taking outside shots, finding a post to dish the ball to, or taking it to the hoop myself."

Thomas is a very versatile player. She can play the 1 or the 2, she has the ability to score inside or or out but at the same time is is an unselfish player who looks to find the open teammate. Thomas is a strong defender, passer and rebounder. She has good court vision and basketball I.Q. She can hit shots in the mid-range area, from 3 or take it to the rim and finish through contact.

Basketball has always been one of the best parts of my life. It has brought me so much happiness throughout the years and has set me up with a handful of great opportunities. Between AAU and school ball I've come to know some great teammates and be a part of amazing teams. I'd like to think I'm a pretty versatile player- that is what I would pride myself most in. I work hard at developing my entire game- jump shots, 3 point shooting, free throws, finishing drives, anticipating on defense, rebounding, passing, etc. I like high intensity basketball. I enjoy playing with players who feel the same way. I have played with and against many of the top players in the state the past few years. I enjoy the battles vs top players and teams. I would much rather play a hard fought game and lose then win vs a poorer team. It's been really cool to have been able to get to know some of my opponents over the years, to build rivalries, to win those cut throat games, to have made it to the Final Four twice, to win the Christmas Tournament my senior year and be awarded tournament MVP, and to have grown as a program every year. The experience isn't quite over yet. I look forward to finishing off my high school basketball career side by side with a great group of girls, and hopefully hanging up the first banner for Brady Girls Basketball.

Bishop Brady has moved up from Division III to D-II this season. But with Thomas leading the way, they're 9-1 (12-1 counting the holiday tournament) and have to be considered title contenders.

"I went into this season with really no expectations" Thomas explained. "I wasn't sure about what all the other D2 teams had to offer and also wasn't sure about my team's full potential. After beating Lebanon the first game of the season, that's when I started to raise the bar for my team. That's when I knew we could compete. After winning the Christmas Tournament, however, is when I realized that we were State Title contenders. That's when the excitement hit me. The past 2 years we've had such a strong team but just couldn't finish the run. Winning the Christmas Tournament felt so good because we finally finished something. We didn't just beat 1 good team and call it a day- we battled till the very end and beat 3 very talented teams. I think the biggest elements that Brady needs to win the State Title this year is focus, confidence, and consistency. Every game it seems as if we do some things really well yet other things poorly. If we can play games with everything- shooting, passing, rebounding, defense, fast break, pressing, limiting turnovers, communication on the court- running smoothly and effectively then we'd be a force. We know we are capable. We also know if we play below average on any night we can be beaten. So we have to come ready- always play hard and smart."

Bishop Brady's boys basketball team also won the Capital Area Holiday Tournament. They're one of the very few schools in the state this season where both teams are title contenders.

"It is very exciting around school with both teams doing so well" Thomas concluded. "The boys and girls teams have a very good hearted relationship and we are each other's biggest fans."

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