Beating teams by huge numbers can be both good and bad for a basketball team.
After facing a couple of quality foes in tight contests in the two initial games of their season, Dave Shutt’s Garaway Lady Pirates have since rolled to a perfect 5-0 mark by soundly thumping a trio of Inter-Valley Conference foes.
Garaway pounded Ridgewood 67-29, led by Sydney Mullet’s 16 points, while Maddie Steiner added 15, Haley Shutt scored 14 and Kallie Regula added 10.
The Lady P’s then clubbed Indian Valley 68-21 with Mullet again leading the way with 19 points and nine steals. Shutt added a balanced 15 points, five steals and five assists to the win while Steiner scored 11, Regula netted 10 and Zoe Johnson added nine.
On Saturday, Dec. 16 Garaway was back at it again, this time tearing apart Newcomerstown 79-19. In that contest Mullet scored a game-high 19 points, adding eight assists and nine steals, while post player Makayla Miller put up a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Shutt added a dozen points, seven steals and four assists, Johnson netted 11 points and tacked on five steals, and Steiner and Chelsi Rothacher both chipped in with seven points.
The key to all three wins was the huge starts the Lady P’s got out to that helped them take commanding leads.
Garaway got out to a 26-4 advantage after one quarter versus Indian Valley and led 43-7 at the half. Against Ridgewood, the Lady Pirates led 27-3 through one quarter and never looked back. Then against a depleted Newcomerstown team, they held a 25-0 lead through one and held a commanding 47-3 half-time advantage.
“We’ve been able to take control early on,” Shutt said of his team’s penchant for applying the pressure early on to display dominance.
The big wins are nice, but Shutt said with Hiland on the horizon on Wednesday, Dec. 20, he would have liked to have seen some closer games that pushed his Lady Pirates more.
“We’ve had a couple of decent tests, but none recently, and that is what I would have liked to have seen coming into the game with Hiland,” Shutt said. “We are excited to play Hiland to see where we stand and find out where we can get better.”
Shutt said he continues to preach to his players that regardless of games, whether it is one of the blowout wins or whether it is a battle with a Hiland team that has had its hand in winning nearly 25 straight league titles, they can’t get too high or too low or settle for whatever the results might be.
“We have to use every opportunity to get better as a team,” Shutt said. “This group has been here long enough that they understand that we can’t get too emotional over wins and losses, regardless of who we are playing. They know what needs to happen for us to keep getting better, and we have to use each game to become steadier in the things we want to accomplish.”
They have accomplished a lot so far with a guard-heavy attack that has caused plenty of turnovers. It is a defense that has created close to 30 steals and nearly 40 turnovers per game over the past three contests. However, Shutt said the Lady Pirates continue to focus on where they can get better. An undersized team, he knows his group has to work that much harder in the paint to be successful.
“We are still trying to build continuity, but I like the aggressive nature of this group,” Shutt said.
As for the big blowout games, Shutt said it has given him time to rest his players so they are fresh for the dance with Hiland. Plus it has allowed him to work in his bench players, meaning that he can develop better depth. Another plus is that the Newcomerstown contest proved to be a breakout game for Miller, who he said his team needs to play big because she gives Garaway some size inside.
“We are going to need Makayla to play well, so hopefully this last game gives her a big boost of confidence and gets her rolling,” Shutt said.