All season long, the Garaway Pirates have flown quietly under the radar, at least when it comes to state pollsters. A quick glance around the Div. III state poll and the 20-3 Pirates are nowhere to be found, despite having run roughshod through the Inter-Valley Conference with an undefeated record, having knocked off Hiland, Div. III’s sixth-ranked team twice.
If a sparkling record and an undefeated league title aren’t enough to make sports writers stand up and take notice, perhaps a triple digit scoring effort will help them realize that this Garaway team is for real.
The Pirates pounded Edison Local 103-57 at Indian Valley High School Saturday, Feb. 20, and put on quite a show as it rattled off four solid quarters of offensive output.
“That is something that I know has never happened in my time here as a head coach,” said Garaway skipper Dave Shutt.
“We’ve gotten close a couple of times this year, but this was one of those nights that everything kind of fell into place for us offensively.”
Garaway, the sectional’s top seed, stormed out of the starting gate with wild abandon, cruising to a 22-11 advantage through the first frame.
But that 22-point effort paled in comparison to what came next, as the Pirates steamrolled their way to a 32-point second quarter, led by senior Cam Miller who hammered home a dunk and scored seven points in the eight-minute onslaught that put Garaway on top 54-24 at the break.
Garaway shot lights out in the half, but head coach Dave Shutt said it was all set up by the unselfishness of his team, and its willingness to move the ball to find open looks.
The Pirates produced 18 first half assists, and ended the night with a whopping 29 dimes. Considering the talk about getting to 15 each night as a goal, the 29 nearly doubled what they normally shoot for.
“It was just a lot of unselfishness and great ball movement,” said Shutt of the pass-happy Pirates. I thought we screened very well, moved the ball and got it to where we could get off quality shots, and our willingness to pass the ball to get it to those moments was awesome.”
Asked whether he felt he enjoyed the 100 points or 29 assists more, Shutt said he preferred the 29 assists, because he felt it got the entire team involved in the flow of the offense so well.
“I don’t think you can put enough emphasis on those 29 assists,” said Shutt. “Any time you can score off of an assist, it’s a good accomplishment.”
That same unselfish play continued throughout the second half, even as Shutt turned to his bench early and often. In the fourth quarter, Garaway burst through the century mark on a pair of Leighton Gingerich free throws.
The Pirates’ play led to some eye-popping numbers at the end of the night. Garaway shot a ridiculous 76percent from the floor overall, making 40-of-52 shots. Included in that number was a 28-of-33 effort from inside the arc, a 12-of-19 performance from 3-point land and the 29 assists that made all of those shots possible.
“They started in a zone, and we forced them out of that pretty quickly, but by then, it seemed like everything we threw up there was going to go in,” said Shutt. “I told our coaches during the game that it was tough to take anyone out of the game, because everyone was so in sync with each other.”
The only moment Shutt had to raise his voice was when his team got a little disjointed on defense during the third quarter.
“We lost our focus a little because we weren’t communication well defensively,” said Shutt. “It was a chance for a teachable moment.”
Garaway put 13 players into the scoring column, including four in double figures. Garaway was led by Ty Hamsher’s 21 points, while Sam Gebhardt and Miller both pitched in with 14 apiece. Logan Mast hit four times from downtown for his 12 points. Joel Honigford added eight and Broc Beachy and Trevor Donaldson each scored six. Gebhardt led the assist parade with eight on the night.
Garaway will now square off with River, which was a 49-33 winner over Barnesville, in a 6 p.m. showdown Friday, Feb. at Indian Valley High School for the sectional title.
“They have two tough and talented guards,” said Shutt of River. “Sophomore Lukas Isaly is really a great player who can create. He will be tough to stop, and we know nothing is going to be easy from here out.”