While it certainly wasn’t as easy as some people felt it might have been, the name of the game at this point in the year is moving on, and Garaway Lady Pirates did that in a 48-37 victory over Inter-Valley Conference foe Sandy Valley Saturday, February 25.
“I thought we played pretty well,” said Garaway coach Dave Shutt. “I really don’t care what the score was, as long as we get the ‘W’ and we move on.”
The Cardinals (8-16) have played Garaway surprisingly tough this season, and this contest in Sugarcreek proved to be no different.
Garaway led 17-13 after one period, and at the half they held a slim lead at four with a 25-21 edge. A solid fourth quarter allowed the Lady P’s to push that lead out to 10 points at 36-26, and despite a gutsy effort from Sandy Valley, Garaway was able to secure the win and advance.
The Lady Pirates got a scare, but when it came down to crunch time, the littlest player on the floor delivered the game’s biggest performance.
Junior point guard Sydney Mullet scored 24 points and was nearly perfect in doing so. Mullet went 4-of-5 from two-point range, connected on all four of her 3-pointers and nailed 4-of-4 free throws while adding a pair of steals and committing just one turnover. It was about as efficient of a game as Garaway head coach Dave Shutt could ask from his point guard. “Syd played a great all-around game,” said Garaway head coach Dave Shutt. “She did it all for us tonight.”
Shutt said that Sandy Valley was finally at full strength after fighting through injuries most of the year, and he gave Sandy Valley a great deal of credit in keeping things close in this one. “That was by far the best they have played against us,” Shutt said. “They are young but improving, and I give them a lot of credit. I thought they really played hard. It was nice to get challenged like that.”
Garaway’s main focal point was quieting Karlee Altimore, the one player Shutt knew could do plenty of damage. With Zoe Johnson stuck to Altimore like glue, the high-scoring Cardinal was limited to 11 points, an accomplishment that Shutt said went a long way in stopping Sandy Valley. “Zoe got that assignment and she did a great job all night of stopping her,” Shutt said. “Altimore can do it all for them.”
One of the ways Garaway was able to limit Altimore was by having Johnson guard her in a diamond-and-one defense. Shutt said that was something they sprang on the Cardinals for the first time in their three meetings, and it worked well, especially when they needed it most in the third quarter. “We were up about six and that defense kind of stalemated them for a while,” Shutt said. “We came up with three straight turnovers and were able to stretch the lead out to double figures.”
From there, Garaway took advantage of something else. Sandy Valley had done a good job of defending with a zone defense, but now, trialing by 10, the Lady Pirates were happy to take the air out of the ball and run some clock. “We wanted to get them out of that zone, so we forced them to come out and get us,” Shutt said. ‘We took a lot of possessions where we ate up 45 seconds to a minute of time, and that kept the score down. But at that point, it wasn’t about piling up points, it was about winning a game and moving on. I thought we did a nice job, especially since we had been off for two weeks.”
Buy the time Mullet fouled out with about two minutes to play, it mattered little, and Garaway was able to finish what it had started.
Aiding in Mullet’s gigantic effort was Haley Shutt, who added 10 points, while Maddie Steiner added six points and five rebounds, Zoe Johnson added four points and three boards and Kallie Regula added a team-high six rebounds. Alana Hill scored 13 points to pace the Cardinals, adding a game-high seven rebounds.
The Pirates improved to 17-6, while the Cardinals bowed out at 8-16.
Garaway will play Barnesville in a district semifinal Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Cambridge High School.
“They’ve got a 6-foot-4 girl, a guard who just became a 1,000-point scorer and another guard who can handle the ball, but they aren’t the deepest,” Shutt said of Barnesville. “We may have to concede the big girl some points, but I think we can take advantage of their lack of depth.”