There is hot, and then there is whatever the Garaway Pirates were when they squared off with Inter-Valley Conference foe Tuscarawas Central Catholic on Friday, Dec. 8 on The Hill in Sugarcreek. Garaway came out in full sharp-shooting mode in taking on the Saints, and that led to a blistering night of shooting that saw the Pirates light up TCC 83-44.
“We jumped on them early and got rolling. Then we came up with some defensive plays that led to some easy transition buckets,” Garaway head coach Terry Rowe said. “Other than the first five minutes of the second half, I thought we played a very complete game.”
Garaway’s big night started with an 8-2 run to start the game, and when Malik Shaffer canned his second 3-pointer, Garaway led 18-5. That lead grew to 28-7 through one quarter when Trevor Donaldson hit a jumper, Shaffer connected again, and Corey Troyer made a steal and a couple of free throws.
Donaldson hit a trey and then connected on an and-one. Zach Immel hit inside, and when Shaffer hit a 3-pointer and was fouled in the act and completed the four-point play, the hometown crowd in Sugarcreek was getting pretty raucous.
“I thought Malik got hot, and that really triggered our defensive effort because the guys were feeding off of his energy,” Rowe said. “Our defense did a nice job of getting our hands in the passing lanes, and once we got started, it seemed like everything we put up was going in.”
Shaffer’s 18 first-half points paved the way for a stunning 47-17 lead. However, the Saints came out in the third quarter bent on at least showing they were going to fight for everything they could get. Justin Peltz started working his magic inside and helped TCC gain some momentum, and Rowe was amply impressed by both Peltz and by the Saints’ effort.
“He’s a big presence inside for them and a talented player,” Rowe said of Peltz. “They really did a nice job of coming out after the break and played with a lot of intensity. I give them credit as much as anything for our struggles to start the second half.”
Six straight points by the Saints gave them momentum, but Shaffer struck again with another three-ball, making it 50-23. Austin Fearon, Bryce Bickford and Karson Schrock continued to keep Garaway on top, and all played key roles in the Pirates forcing the issue on the defensive end, where they turned a ton of Saints miscues into easy scoring opportunities.
“We felt that we were deeper and more experienced with our guards, and we wanted to try to take advantage of our quickness before they could get the ball inside to Peltz,” Rowe said.
Shaffer dropped in his fifth 3-pointer of the game, and the Pirates led 62-36 through three quarters, leaving no doubt as to the outcome.
Rowe said at 2-0, his team has played two solid games, but it may be too early to assess where they stand. He said good shooting will be a key to his team continuing its success. Because the Pirates don’t have a lot of height, they will continue to rely on their guard play to spur them. Fortunately for Rowe, he has a stable of talented guards to throw at teams.
“For us to be successful, not only will we have to shoot it well, but we have to share the ball, spread the scoring around,” Rowe said. “A lot will come down to how well we rebound the ball. If we want to utilize our quickness and get out and run, we have to be able to rebound the ball to start that. Transition basketball will be important for us, so we are going to stress rebounding. Because if we can’t do that, it takes away from our ability to get out and run. Hopefully by the end of the year, we will see that we do have a lot of depth and we are able to do the little things on defense that allow us to rebound.”
While Peltz scored a team-high 12 points for the Saints, Garaway had 12 players hit the scoring column. Shaffer led all scorers with 21 points, Donaldson added a dozen, Fearon scored 10, Karson Schrock and Corey Troyer both chipped in with nine, and Immel knocked down six off the bench for the Pirates.