For the better part of one quarter, the Newcomerstown Trojans gave the Garaway Pirates everything they could handle in their Dec. 20 confrontation on The Hill in Sugarcreek.
Then the Pirates one-upped Noah. The Biblical animal master did everything two-by-two, but Garaway did him one better, making everything happen in threes in its 76-35 win.
The Pirates poured in 15 3-pointers, hitting just about every shot they took from beyond the arc, and turned a tight game into a massive blowout.
“That was a lot of fun, watching some of these guys who have been struggling shooting the ball to come out and light it up tonight,” said Garaway first-year coach Terry Rowe. “You hope that gets them going and they start gaining more and more confidence in their shot. It is all a process of growing as a team, and I thought we saw some real growth tonight.”
The game began to look like it might be a slug-fest early on, as the teams traded buckets. Ben Mason got Garaway on top early with a pair of scores inside, but the Trojans scored four to tie it. Garaway’s Ty Hamsher then caught fire, hitting the first of four three-balls in the first quarter. Newcomerstown’s Brennan Wilkin responded in kind to tie it, but Hamsher hit again, and then again to give Garaway a 16-11 edge. Wilkin knocked down another trey, but with time winding down, Hamsher hit a ridiculous twisting 3-pointer from the corner to give Garaway a 19-14 lead through one quarter.
Then came a ferocious Pirates attack to start the second that blew the game open. Hamsher hit his fifth three in the game’s first 8-plus minutes, and Malik Shaffer then hit the first of his four 3-pointers. Hamsher drove the lane and Joel Honigford scored on a pair of free throws, and just like that Garaway led 29-14. Wilkin and Bryce Barbera kept the Trojans within shouting distance, but Phillip Gebhardt connected on the first of his three triples and Shaffer knocked another long ball down to end the half with Garaway up 35-20.
The fireworks were only starting for Garaway. The pirates started to get to the free throw line early in the second half, and led 41-22 before they started marching to the beat of three again. Gebhardt hit one, then on the next trip down the floor he drilled another. By the time Shaffer connected from downtown again and Karson Schrock scored inside, Garaway’s lead had grown to 59-24.
“Teams know about Ty, so we need Phillip and Malik to hit shots and space the floor for us,” Rowe said. “They are going to free us up a lot inside the paint.”
“When we start hitting shots like that it spreads quickly,” Gebhardt said. “The bench gets excited, and that makes it so much fun. My shot hadn’t been falling the last few games, so it was nice to get going tonight, and to take the lid off the rim. That will carry over.”
Schrock and Erik Miller both canned treys in the fourth quarter, and the only thing stopping Colton Fender from joining the fun was about the two inches he was across the arc, resulting in a long two ball that put Garaway up 72-34.
All in all it was another step in the right direction for a Garaway team that struggled out of the gate after getting a slow start due to the football team playing so deep into the playoffs.
“We’re starting to get there,” Rowe said of the Pirates. “The first couple of games we didn’t shoot the ball very well, be we played a couple of really good teams. It feels like we are starting to get the feel of things now. We aren’t exactly a young team, but we are young team in terms of varsity experience. I think we are starting to gain a little more confidence, but we are a work in progress.”
Rowe said they knew the Trojans were dangerous, having dealt Tuscarawas Central Catholic a 24-point set-back two weeks ago, so they took nothing for granted.
Hamsher ended the game with 23 points, while Shaffer scored all 12 of his points on four treys. Gebhardt added nine, Schrock had seven, Austin Fearon and Mason each added four and three points apiece went to Miller, Fender and Trevor Donaldson. Wilkin scored 13 and Barbera added a dozen to pace the Trojans.