Maybe Yoda would have taken a diplomatic approach to Garaway’s weekend losses to Indian Valley and Sandy Valley by telling Luke, “There is no winning or losing, only getting better.”
Undoubtedly the Pirates did get better by playing great competition and going right down to the wire, but it has been a tough couple of days for the Garaway Pirates boys basketball team as they fell in a pair of heart-breaking losses.
Garaway head coach Terry Rowe said his team played hard, and he knows that despite the losses that these two games will pay dividends down the road.
“I thought our effort was really great,” Rowe said. “Unfortunately we didn’t get a win, but what we have to do is get better from the experience. These were big challenges for us, and teams like this are only going to make us better for when it matters the most come tournament time.”
In the Friday, Jan. 19 game versus undefeated Inter-Valley Conference leader Indian Valley, the Pirates got hot early and built a nice lead before faltering down the stretch, only to fall in overtime 71-67.
Garaway loaded up to avenge an earlier loss to the Braves and fired away as Malik Shaffer started doing a pretty fair Stephan Curry imitation from downtown. His 3-point daggers helped Garaway build an impressive 27-17 lead through the first quarter.
Shaffer stayed hot, and Garaway added a point to its lead and took a 40-29 advantage into the locker room. Having lost to the Braves earlier, Rowe’s crew knew it had to have this game to stay in the hunt for the IVC South title, and things looked good, but a bitter wind was ready to move in as the second half began.
“The kids played well, but foul trouble in the second and third quarter really hurt us,” Rowe said. “We had multiple starters on the bench for both of those quarters.”
And with starter Karson Schrock already out due to an illness, it made the foul trouble hurt that much more.
The Braves began using their strength and athleticism in the paint, as they have all season, and began chipping away at the Pirates’ lead. The quartet of Ryan Berger, Connor McGuire, Tanner Myers and Cade Williams led the charge, and with 2:26 to play in the third period, Indian Valley was within four points. Garaway’s Ethan Roden and Erik Miller would keep the Pirates rolling, and Garaway would maintain that lead through the end of the quarter and took a 49-45 advantage in the final eight minutes of what everyone knew would be a great finale.
“They are a good team, and they are undefeated for a reason,” Rowe said. “Give them credit. They battled to get back into this game with some strong play. They are big and strong and physical, and that wore on us a bit as the game went along.”
It took the Braves just over one minute to draw even with the Pirates, and the game’s fervor went to a whole new level.
The two teams hammered away at each other, and locked in a tight dual, Garaway had one final chance to win. Erik Miller had his game-winning shot attempt blocked out of bounds, and with less than two seconds on the clock, Trevor Donaldson, who had been saddled with foul trouble much of the game, had a last-second desperation shot spin out.
In a game like this between two teams playing as hard as the Pirates and Braves were playing, it seemed appropriate that a little extra action would have to determine the winner as they headed to extra play, locked up at 60-all.
Unfortunately for Pirates fans, just like they have done all season, the Braves mustered enough energy and poise to pull out the four-point win in overtime.
“We had a lead in overtime, and we had some wide-open looks that we couldn’t get to go down to maintain the lead,” Rowe said.
Garaway was led by Roden, who had another spectacular game with 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Shaffer added 18 points, all on 3-pointers in the first half. Miller chipped in with 14 points. Indian Valley had a balanced attack with four players in double figures. McGuire led the way with 18, Williams added 17, and Berger and Myers both pitched in with 14 to improve Indian Valley to 11-0 overall and 7-0 in league play. The Pirates fell to 8-3 overall and 5-2 in the IVC South.
Hoping to regain the winning edge, the Pirates traveled to Magnolia 24 hours later to face a tough Sandy Valley squad that is fighting for the top spot in the IVC North division.
It would be another game that would come right down to the wire, and again the Pirates would get nipped at the end, falling to the Cardinals 56-54.
Miller would lead all scorers with 17 points while Donaldson would add 12 and Roden would produce 10. Bryce Kelly led a balanced scoring attack for Sandy Valley with a 15-point effort as the Pirates fell to 8-4.