Mini-spurts lead Lady Pirates to victory over Martins Ferry

Who needs massive scoring streaks when you can use short little spurts to pull away.

It wasn’t a long-sustained run that paved the way for the Garaway Lady Pirates’ 56-39 victory over Martins Ferry in the Div. III district semifinal game at Meadowbrook High School Wednesday, Feb. 24, but rather a series of short, quick bursts that helped Garaway grow their lead throughout the contest.

In a number of recent games, fans have watched as Garaway has put together some big-time runs, especially in the second half, that have helped them dominate play on they floor. But on this night, it was several nifty smaller runs that elicited cheers from the hometown fans.

The first run came courtesy of senior sharpshooter Izzy Meese, who drained three straight 3-pointers to start the game after Martins Ferry had scored first, to give Garaway a 9-2 lead.

“I thought Izzy’s hot hand gave us the start we needed,” said Garaway coach Jim Monigold.

Meese, Garaway’s leading scorer this season, would not score again until late in the third quarter, but her teammates would be there to strengthen Garaway’s lead.

Led by Leah Coleman and Tyrah King, the Purple Riders snuck back to within 13-8 before a Kendra Miller put-back ended the first quarter with Garaway leading 15-8. (video)

Again the lead shrunk to 17-13, but Garaway then put together another mini run of seven points, all coming courtesy of Courtney Werker.

“That is exactly what you expect from your seniors at this time of the year,” said Monigold.

Now up 11 points, Garaway looked to secure a double-figure lead at the half, and they did not disappoint. The powerful and quick King scored inside, but Miller struck again and Sydney Mullet canned a jumper to make it 28-15. (video)Miller then later hit a trey, and King’s buzzer-beater left Garaway up 31-18 at the break.

Then, it typical Lady Pirates fashion, Monigold’s crew came out and laid down some impressive defense to begin the second half, and outscored the Purple Riders 15-2 in what was their truly largest and most important run of the night.

Katya Misko became a huge player in the run, doing some serious damage inside, while Werker hit another three-ball. Hailey Shutt ended the spree with a pair of jumpers and Garaway led 46-20. (video)

“We’ve been a team that has really played well coming out of the break, “said Monigold. “Our defense seems to pick it up coming out of the locker room, and we definitely did that tonight.”

That was a good thing, because Martin’s Ferry kicked it up a notch on defense and began harassing the Lady Pirates full-court, and it took a toll.

The Purple Riders scored six straight to trim the lead to 46-25 before Alexa Putt beat the buzzer on a jumper to end the third period. (video)

Martins Ferry jumped on Garaway for six quick points to start the fourth, and eventually got to within 52-39, but Garaway was able to fend them off from any serious challenge, and the Lady Pirates advanced to the district final.

“We got off to that great start, we moved the basketball and got to do some things we wanted to do,” said Monigold. “We gave up 14 offensive boards, and that is the first time in a long time we’ve given up that many. We knew coming in that they area team whose MO is to play their best in the fourth quarter. Fortunately we had built a big lead by that time. It wasn’t a thing of beauty, but we will take it. There were a lot of spurts where we just kind of let them hang around. Just a couple of little mistakes here and there, but we will get that cleaned up.”

King was terrific in keeping her team within range of Garaway, scoring 13 points and keeping a ton of balls alive. Kyana Johnson, the other big for the Purple riders, scored 10 and was the one player who really hurt Garaway on the offensive glass, while Coleman added seven and Abryanna Bumbico scored six.
Garaway got a balanced attack, with Meese and Miller both scoring 13, Misko and Werker each adding 10 and Shutt pitching in with four. With 11 rebounds, it marked yet another double-double for the gifted Miller, who has quietly flown under the radar on her way to a stellar campaign.

“My goodness, Kendra was controlling the boards like she can do,” said Monigold of his senior power forward who can take players inside or outside at any given moment to produce points. “I thought all of our seniors played a pretty key role tonight.”

Miller said following the game that she has had a ball playing with this senior group that has been together an awfully long time. Meese, Werker and herself have all been longtime varsity contributors coming in as youngsters to provide depth then take over, and they are enjoying playing their finest ball at the right time.

“This has been so much fun this year, but we don’t want to be content,” said Miller. “We knew this team was going to be big inside, and I think coming out of our sectional games really helped prepare us for this inside. One of the things we work hard on is creating offensive second chance points. It feels like we are playing our best right now, so hopefully we can keep this thing rolling.”

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