Garaway head coach Dave Shutt had a lot of questions on his mind heading into the Lady Pirates’ Wednesday, Nov. 28 game with Carrollton on The Hill in Sugarcreek.
How would his team respond to the devastating overtime loss to River View in its season-opener after it held the lead and the ball with 14 seconds to play in regulation? Where would his team’s scoring come from with the graduation of two of the school’s top scorers in Sydney Mullet and Haley Shutt? Who would take the leadership reins after an extremely strong senior class graduated last year?
A great second-half effort answered a lot of his questions, and Garaway got some quality play across the board in dismantling Carrollton 53-28 to even its record at 1-1.
“It was a sloppy first half, but we played with a lot more energy and intensity the second half,” Shutt said of his team’s effort.
Garaway struggled early, holding a 12-9 lead through one quarter. The offense continued to misfire in the second period with the Lady P’s generating just seven points. However, one calling card that has been a consistent theme for Garaway over the years has been defense, and the Lady Pirates limited the Warriors to just two second-quarter points to forge a 19-11 halftime lead.
“We missed some free throws, had some unforced turnovers and were generally kind of sloppy,” Shutt said of the first half.
However, coming out of the locker room, Garaway found its offensive stride and went to work, putting together a great half of basketball to pull away with ease for the win.
Garaway tallied 15 third-quarter points and upped the ante to 19 in the fourth period while defensively the Lady P’s did not allow the Warriors to score double digits in any single quarter.
“We really played a nice second half, and I thought we showed a lot of what we can bring to the table when we are on,” Shutt said. “We did a lot of things well in the second half that we didn’t do in the first half. We finished plays strong, and we looked like a much better team.”
One of the biggest differences came courtesy of Zoe Johnson, one of Garaway’s top scoring threats who struggled throughout the first half. She found her mark in the final two periods and led all scorers with 13 points.
The one consistent for Garaway’s offense through two games has been the play of Kallie Regula, who knocked down a dozen points after pouring in a game-high 21 against River View.
After seeing such a large and talented senior class graduate, Shutt said this team is not deep, but the crew he marches out there night after night is more than capable of winning ball games.
“One of the biggest things we worked on this year was versatility with each of the girls, and for the most part we have seen some good progress,” Shutt said. “We had some tough roles to replace, but I think this is a team that will get better and better as the season progresses. Kallie has shown really nice consistency the first two games.”
Shutt said the execution was much better against Carrollton, especially in the second half. After watching his team crumble against River View, he was anxious to see how they would respond. The answer was encouraging.
“I thought we played with better poise and executed much better tonight,” Shutt said. “I thought we came in really focused and ready to play, even though our first half wasn’t great.”
As for leadership, Regula, Johnson and Chelsi Rothacher are all seasoned veterans who understand the system, understand the game and are willing to work hard to lead this team.
“As our summer went on, I thought our upperclassmen really showed up and led us, and we improved all summer long, and it carried over into the season,” Shutt said. “Realistically we could be 2-0, but the first game of the year isn’t going to define your season. It’s a long road, and we will continue to get better and grow.”
Aside from Johnson and Regula, Rothacher added nine points, Ashton Gerber chipped in with six, Lizzie Mullet added five and handled the point guard duties well, Chloe Hershberger tacked on five points, and Kat Weaver rounded out the scoring with three. Abby Laizure led Carrollton with 13 while Malina Moore added 10.