Garaway head coach Terry Rowe may just stop talking on the bench. The second-year head coach of the Pirates’ boys basketball team was watching his team clamp down on West Muskingum in their Div. III sectional opener in Sugarcreek on Tuesday, Feb. 27.
It had been close to seven minutes since the number-14-seed Tornadoes had scored, and Rowe said he turned to his assistance coaches and uttered something about West M not having scored yet in the quarter. Of course that prompted two quick Tornadoes scores, but that was about the only thing that went awry for the Pirates in their 75-46 victory.
“I spoke too soon,” Rowe said with a laugh. “I guess that’s like talking about a no-hitter in baseball.”
The win was really workman-like for the number-three-seed Pirates, and Rowe said his team was focused on doing the things it needed to do to play a complete game.
“The kids listened to the scouting report. We took away their shooters, and defensively we were a little bit more solid, a little more fundamental than we have been the past several games,” Rowe said. “Plus we shot the ball well and had a nice flow offensively. Anytime we have 40 at the half we have to feel good.”
Early on Malik Shaffer ignited the Pirates with a pair of threes, and then Erik Miller, Corey Troyer and Ethan Roden all scored four points, which helped Garaway build a double-digit lead at 21-9 through the first period.
West Muskingum wasn’t about to go away easily, and they quietly trimmed the Garaway lead to single digits when Jaren Garber came off the bench to score eight second-quarter points. Leading by eight, the Pirates then lit a fire and rebuilt an even larger lead, and they did it by jamming the ball into the paint to Roden, where the big man started dealing out pain
An 8-0 run allowed Garaway to again pull away, and after a late shot in the half by the Tornadoes went awry, the Pirates threw three passes the length of the floor in four seconds, the last pass from Roden finding Austin Fearon, who was hacked on his way to a lay-in at the buzzer. Fearon split the two charity tosses, and Garaway had a comfortable 40-24 halftime bulge.
#WMvGAR BBB Pirates work the break to perfection at the end of the half to get Austin Fearon a pair of FTs at the buzzer. Garaway leads a West M 40-24 at the half @BabySwiss pic.twitter.com/CcqL5MxmX2
— OhioSportsTicket.com (@OhioTicket) February 28, 2018
Neither team could buy a bucket in the early going of the second half as both teams misfired repeatedly over the first three minutes. However, a pair of Shaffer three-balls opened the floodgates, and when Troyer drove the middle of the lane for a score, Garaway had upped its lead to 50-24.
It wouldn’t be until the 2:33 mark of the third period that West M’s Kyle Lomas would finally break the scoring drought, but Rowe had gotten exactly what he wanted from his team coming out of the break, and that was a terrifying, hard-nosed half-court defensive effort.
“That defensive stand in the second half was really big because we weren’t scoring at first either,” Rowe said. “I thought we did a really good job of taking away lanes and contesting shots.”
Garaway really went to work to open the fourth period. Roden scored inside, and after a Lomas score, the Pirates went off on a 15-3 run. Trevor Donaldson scored on an and-one, Fearon hit a driving layup, Miller and Shaffer each canned a triple, and Troyer and Austin Monigold each scored on drives.
With a gaping 72-39 advantage, Rowe unloaded the bench to give his starting crew a well-deserved rest. Holden Yoder capped off the scoring for the Pirates with a nifty and-one, and Garaway had done exactly what they were expected to do.
“We felt that their record was a little misleading because they play in a pretty tough league, so we figured they were better than a couple of teams seeded above them,” Rowe said.
While Garber came off the bench to provide a good scoring punch for West M with 16 points, it was not close to enough to approach Garaway’s balanced attack. The Pirates got 15 from Shaffer, all on five treys, while Roden added 14, Miller and Fearon both netted 11, Donaldson scored nine, and Troyer chipped in with eight.
For Garaway the win comes on the heels of three straight losses to three teams in Hiland, East Canton and Harrison Central, all of which can play ball. Rowe said getting back on the winning trail was important, but he also said if losing to quality competition at the end of the year is what it takes for his team to get better, then so be it.
“The games we lost this year were to really good basketball teams,” Rowe said. “Those late losses, Strasburg and twice to Indian Valley, those are all high-caliber teams. We scheduled teams that would prepare us for tournament time, and now we have to use that experience and get on a run. The plan was for those challenges to make us better, and we played really well tonight, so it’s a good start.”