Garaway Girls Basketball

Lady Pirates’ strong second half shuts down Cardinals in 49-34 IVC showcase win

Chelsi Rothacher ignites the Lady Pirates

If Dave Shutt’s Lady Pirates wanted a nice test before they head into their Div. III tournament trail, they got one in an IVC showdown.

Garaway played an up-and-down first half in their Inter-Valley Conference showcase game featuring the runner-up in both the IVC North and South divisions, but a huge second-half effort was set up by the Lady Pirates’ defense, and it led to a 49-34 victory.

Garaway ended the first half with a nice run to forge a bit of a cushion heading into the locker room, then turned it on in the second half to win their Inter-Valley Conference showcase game with Sandy Valley at Hiland High School’s Perry Reese, Jr. Community Center on Saturday, Feb. 9.

Garaway’s Zoe Johnson scored the Lady P’s first four points including a 3-pointer, but the Cardinals answered with four points from Kirston Mariconi and a trey from Karlee Altimore for a 7-4 lead.

The rest of the first quarter belonged to Garaway, which got two free throws from Ashton Gerber, a triple from Chloe Hershberger and a Kallie Regula jumper that gave Garaway an 11-7 edge through the first period.

Sandy Valley came storming out of the break by scoring seven straight, a run that included a drive and score and a 3-pointer from Altimore and a steal and score from Tori Sickafoose.

With Garaway reeling, Hershberger stepped up and delivered a big three-ball.

“Chloe stepped up and hit a couple of big threes for us, and it was good for her because she has put in a lot of time, and to see her have those kinds of moments is gratifying,” Garaway head coach Dave Shutt said.

It was at that point that senior guard Chelsi Rothacher began making herself known, providing a big kick-start for the Lady P’s. Rothacher split two free throws, and after Altimore scored on a short jumper, Rothacher hit a triple and made a steal and scored to give Garaway a 20-16 lead. That seemed to get Garaway going, and Johnson dropped a jumper and Gerber connected on a 3-pointer, but Altimore scored inside and hit an and-one to end the period with Garaway leading 26-21.

“Chelsea gave us a huge lift heading into the half, and we even talked about that,” Shutt said. “I thought her play there was huge, and that kind of energy from her is pretty typical.”

Gerber scored four quick points, and Regula hit a 15-footer, but the Cardinals answered with a score inside from Altimore and a three-ball from Jade Gibson to trim the deficit to 32-28.

With Garaway leading 36-32, the Lady Pirates took over the game. Regula dropped a jumper, Johnson scored an and-one, Regula hit two free throws and Johnson scored again inside as Garaway began abusing Sandy Valley in the paint.

The Lady Pirates then began paring off large chunks of time as they held the ball and made the Cardinals chase. That eventually led to a Johnson score inside, and she then went to the line and hit two free throws after Rothacher’s nice defensive play. Garaway had parlayed a great second half into an easy win against a good Sandy Valley team.

“Outside of about four possessions, we felt like we really held defensively in the second half,” Shutt said. “I thought it was a good all-around effort tonight, but I really thought we played an excellent second half. We took care of the basketball, and we were patient and took some really good shots.”

Johnson tallied 10 of her game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter as Garaway pulled away. She got plenty of help from Regula, who scored nine, while Gerber added seven and Rothacher and Hershberger each pitched in with six. Even though Garaway was busy focusing on Altimore, Sandy Valley was led by her 17 points while Sickafoose added seven and Mariconi and Abby Parker each scored four.

“We wanted to throw a variety of looks at Altimore because she is that good,” Shutt said. “I think she had 14 at the half, and then we held her to three points in the second half, so we made some nice adjustments. We kind of went after her by committee, and Ashton Gerber, Chloe Hershberger and Zoe Johnson did a really nice job on her in the second half.”

Shutt said this win was a key one because they know they will face several teams in the tournament that are very similar to Sandy Valley in terms of talent and skill.

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