Every coach wants them, players relish them, but often times they are terrifically tough to come by. But the Lady Pirates of Garaway got one.
On Tuesday, January 23, Garaway stormed into Zoarville and shot lights out in a 74-63 win in a game that saw Dave Shutt’s crew pick up what is perhaps its most impressive win of the season against a Tusky Valley Trojans team that has now dropped two straight after going 14-1.
“That definitely was a signature win, on the road against a really good team,” Shutt said. “There was a lot of great individual play on both sides, and it was one of those games that was really fun to be a part of and it had to be exciting for fans to watch.”
Right from the opening tip, Garaway’s most consistent scorer picked up her team and led the Lady Pirates to a lead, although the Trojans stayed right there with them. Haley Shutt scored 10 of her game-high 23 points in the first-quarter to push Garaway out to a lead. Right out of the gate Garaway seized the lead and never gave it away, using the 8-0 cushion to propel it to victory.
“Haley was really big for us early on in building that lead, because that turned out to be a huge moment for us,” Shutt said in building that early cushion. “We knew that they would want to come out breathing fire after losing to Triway, so we felt like we had to be very ready and focused to face a great effort. Our kids responded well and gave us what I feel was the most complete game of this season. We are a young team but we are really starting to get it and turn the corner, and this game goes a long way in that.”
Garaway doubled a three-point lead and took a six-point edge into the locker room at the half with a 39-33 edge. The quarter showcased the continuing growth of Zoe Johnson, who has emerged as a fourth scoring option to go with Shutt, Sydney Mullet and Maddie Steiner. Johnson has been on fire as of late, and this game continued that strong effort as she put up 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the floor, including three 3-pointers.
Johnson was just recently inserted into the starting line-up, and she has responded well to that challenge.
“She was a JV player all last year, and she definitely has talent,” Shutt said of Johnson. “We have been kind of waiting for the right time to move her into the starting line-up, and she has done some great things since we did that.”
Just like the start of the first half, Garaway came racing out of the gate to begin the third quarter, and an early run moved them ahead by 13 points, and with a swarming defense like Shutt employs, that kind of lead is tough to overcome. Yet the Trojans did, led by Boston McKinney who almost single-handedly picked up her team and got them back to within five at the end of three.
However, overcoming that kind of deficit took a toll physically on Tusky Valley, and Garaway continued to push the issue on both ends of the court, trying to speed things up and keep the pressure on.
As the Lady Pirates looked to put the game away from the charity stripe, they put the ball into the capable hands of Mullet, who fearlessly took the ball, was fouled and went to the free throw line time after time, where she proved perfect over the gamer’s final minutes and was 11-of-11 overall on the night. The quarter also saw Mullet’s perfection at the stripe ignite her to an evening that saw her net 22 points. Steiner tacked on seven points, but added six impressive steals on the evening.
McKinney finished with 22 points, seven assists, two blocks and steals, and three rebounds for the game. Kierrah Stewart added 11 points and six caroms for the Trojans.
In their game prior to the Trojans showdown, Garaway took on East Canton and delivered a 71-42 thrashing that saw Johnson go off for a career-high 16-points to go with five rebounds, both of which were a team high.
Mullet added 14 points while Shutt scored a dozen and Kaitlyn Stress added 10 while Steiner scored six.
“We keep getting better every game,” Shutt said. “Tusky Valley is a great program, so to win this game was huge for us.”
These two teams could easily meet in the Div. III tournament, where they know it would again be a classic confrontation between two teams that could come away victorious, yet while there was more ball to play after this one, only one would move on should that tournament game take place.
Previously, the Lady Pirates handed Strasburg a large 69-17 defeat that saw Garaway pull away from the start. It was a well-balanced attack as Shutt scored 15, Mullet tacked on 14, Steiner scored 13, Johnson, Ashton Gerber and Stress each had six and Kallie Regula added five.
In that game Garaway came up with a whipping 30 steals as the Lady Pirates defense proved to be quite aggressive in getting the Tigers to turn the ball over.
Mullet recorded nine of those steals, and with her five against East Canton, it made her one heck of a thief. Steiner also added six steals for Garaway.
Julie Schupbach scored six for the Tigers, while Alyssa Simms added five.