Do you remember the penultimate scene in “Terminator 2” when Sarah Connor had the liquid Terminator backed up to the precipice of the glowing, lava-like vat of super-heated ore?
The Terminator was staggering, a mere inch or two from falling to his death. Sarah Connor needed only one final shot to eliminate what was a seemingly undefeatable foe.
That was the same situation the Garaway Pirates found themselves in when they stared down Ohio’s Div. III number-one-ranked team in Harvest Prep.
Just like Sarah Connor, the Pirates were one final shot away from delivering a most improbable end to the team favored to win a state championship.
But just like Sarah Connor, that shot never came, and the Warriors ended up defeating the Pirates 59-53 in an overtime game that saw Garaway play at an incredible clip throughout the 37 minutes of play.
Back around Christmas Harvest Prep had manhandled the Pirates in the TCC Holiday Showcase, delivering a nearly flawless 93-62 win.
That massive blowout coupled with the Warriors’ spotless record this year led many to believe this regional final held at the Convocation Center at Ohio University would be anything but exciting.
But just like Sarah Connor, there was no quit in the Pirates, and they foiled the Warriors at every turn, to the point of frustrating a team that had railroaded its tournament opponents up until this game by an average score of 77-43. Its closest game was a 78-60 win over a very talented Wheelersburg team in the regional semifinal.
But this was a different Garaway team from the one that had played in December. It was a Pirates team brimming with confidence, and Terry Rowe’s crew was not about to back down just because the Warriors were a walking, talking and breathing carbon copy of the Terminator.
If Sarah Connor could take on the Terminator head on, then the Pirates could take on the Warriors.
They almost pulled off the biggest upset of the tournament.
Garaway’s Erik Miller threw the first punch, a 3-point dagger that set the tone early that this wasn’t going to be a blowout for the Warriors.
Harvest Prep then went up 5-3 before Corey Troyer came off the bench to ignite the Pirates with a pair of scintillating drives. A Trevor Donaldson 3-pointer and a score from Ethan Roden inside, and Garaway had forged a 14-11 lead through one quarter.
Steals from Soul Hines and CJ Anderson allowed Harvest Prep to move into the lead momentarily, but Donaldson canned another triple to put the Pirates back on top 19-17.
However, the Warriors got scores from Elijah Glenn, Isaiah Cumberland and finally an Anthony drive to take a 21-17 halftime lead. However, with all of the scoring taking place, it was the bucket that didn’t count that the Pirates could have used later. Just as the half expired, Roden pushed up a short shot that he appeared to have released before the red light, and the buzzer sounded. It went in, but the Pirates’ celebration was short-lived as officials conferred and waved off the score. That two points would become larger as the game rolled along.
Garaway wasn’t ahead, but the Warriors at that point realized this was not the Pirates team they saw earlier this season.
A Claudio Penha score gave the Warriors a six-point lead, but Erik Miller would catch fire, drilling three straight 3-pointers on three trips down the floor, and the Pirates were back in business, up 26-25.
That good feeling didn’t last as Hines made a steal and fed Anderson for a score, Bryce Beavers hit a trifecta and Cumberland scored inside. Suddenly the Warriors were back on top 32-26.
However, the Pirates kept fighting, led by Troyer, who completed an electrifying and-one, scored again on a drive and then Austin Fearon canned two free throws to trim the Garaway deficit to 36-33 heading into the final eight minutes of play.
However, Harvest Prep was now in uncharted waters, not having been in any close games this season.
They were about to get tested, big time.
The Warriors built a five-point lead, but Donaldson came through again with another trey, and when Roden scored, the teams were locked in an even duel at 40.
Beavers scored twice around a Garaway turnover, and then the Pirates made their move. Roden scored inside, Troyer blitzed down the lane yet again for a score and then he hit Roden on a gorgeous assist for a 46-44 Pirates’ lead.
The Terminator was getting backed up toward the bubbling cauldron of fiery ore, and the heat was on.
With just under two minutes to play, Penha hit two crucial free throws to tie the score, but Troyer looked unstoppable on the dribble drive and found success again for a 48-46 lead. With 45 seconds to play, the talented Anthony weaved through the Pirates’ defense and laid one in to knot things at 48, but the Pirates would have the final shot at ending it in regulation. Garaway wore down the clock for the last shot until Anderson knocked the ball out of play with 3.1 seconds left.
Sarah Connor had smashed the Terminator to the brink of disaster, and now she had one final shot at ending his grip on the rest of Div. III.
Garaway inbounded the ball and got it to Donaldson, who has a penchant for hitting game-winners, but this time his shot wouldn’t fall, and it was off to overtime.
That was when the Terminator would spring back to life, and the big blow came right out of the gate when Anthony ripped a triple to put the pressure on Garaway.
Donaldson fed Roden inside for a score to trim Harvest Prep’s lead to one, but Garway misfired on its next two trips, and Beavers converted two free throws. Cumberland then scored off a feed from Anthony to make it 55-50 with 1:46 to play.
Donaldson and Beavers traded free throws, but the Pirates committed two crucial turnovers, and Harvest Prep took advantage, Hines hitting two free throws and Anthony splitting a pair for a 59-51 lead with 22 seconds to play. Roden would score the Pirates’ final bucket of the season with 10 seconds to play, but the monumental effort from Garaway had fallen just short.