Garaway Boys Basketball

Pirates stay focused despite large deficit and come away a winner over Titans

Ethan Roden and the Pirates flex their muscles late in comeback win over Titans

The first eight minutes of Triway’s boys basketball showdown with Garaway went to the Titans. The middle two quarters were basically a dead heat, but Garaway owned the final six minutes in what turned into a fascinating 59-56 Garaway victory on Feb. 2 on The Hill in Sugarcreek.

Foe the Pirates the win was a testament to their depth as head coach Terry Rowe was forced to go deep into his bench early as the Pirates got into foul trouble right out of the gate. But in the end Rowe’s crew turned in an admirable effort to find a way to win.

“That was not the best brand of basketball the first 20-plus minutes, but we found a way to gut out a win,” Rowe said. “I felt like we were able to weather the early storm before we finally got going.”

The close loss was one of several for the Titans this season.

“I don’t care about the final margin, a loss is a loss,” Triway head coach Ben Holt said. “We didn’t do some things tonight that we typically do well, and that was a big part of it tonight. You have to play a full four quarters against a team like this.”

With Garaway big men Erik Miller and Ethan Roden glued to the bench for the majority of the first half, Triway began dominating the glass in a big way, and that helped them open up a large lead in the first quarter.

With Gabe Walker and Jordan Stokes playing key roles inside, Triway pushed an early 9-5 lead out to an 11-point bulge as Walker scored eight of the Titans 14-points in that stretch, which allowed Triway to take a 22-11 lead. Karson Schrock, who returned from a lengthy illness, gave Garaway a spark when he stepped back into a 3-pointer to end the quarter with Garaway trailing 22-14.

Kyle Sturgin and Walker both scored again inside to push the Titans lead back to 10, and while Pirates senior Trevor Donaldson was heating up, scoring five points, Stokes and Braden Biggs moved Triway’s lead to its largest at 34-21 late in the first half.

That was when Garaway got what may have been its two biggest clutch shots of the game as Donaldson and Miller both stroked 3-pointers before the half to get the Pirates back in the game, trimming Triway’s lead to 34-27.

Triway again applied some pressure to begin the third period when Walker scored inside and Biggs canned a trey to make it 39-27, but the Pirates used the long ball to get right back in the game, getting triples from Miller and Schrock and a Roden put-back to make it 39-35. Walker’s jumper was followed by two more Miller 3-pointers, and suddenly Garaway was within two points, but Biggs and Walker both tallied two points late in the third quarter to give the Titans a 47-41 lead heading into the final frame.

Three-balls rained down early as Austin Fearon and Donaldson hit one each around a Braden Bigg’s trey. Trailing by six later in the period, Garaway finally drew even when Donaldson and Miller each drilled 3-ppinters, and the game was anew at 54 apiece.

That didn’t last long as Garaway got a stop and Miller stepped into his sixth 3-pointer in eight tries, giving Garaway its first lead of the game with less than three minute to play. Moments later Garaway took a five-point lead when Roden made a steal near mid-court and went the distance to put the Pirates up 59-54.

Sturgin then came up huge, hitting a jumper in the lane, which got the Titans within one possession, but time was running out, and Triway was forced to foul several times before putting Garaway into the bonus.

Corey Troyer misfired on a free throw, and the Titans raced down the floor with 30 seconds to play, plenty of time to go inside and score. However, Walker missed two shots from point-blank range, and Stokes also missed from in close before Donaldson secured the rebound.

With 19 seconds to play, Donaldson went to the line for a one-and-one, and his first attempt hit the iron twice before settling on the crease, the ball resting on the back iron for a full two seconds before rolled off in slow motion. The two teams battled for the rebound, and a tied-up ball resulted in possession for the Titans. After taking a time out with 10 seconds to play, Garaway’s defense forced Braden Biggs to hoist a very long 3-point attempt that came up well shy. Troyer snared the ball and was fouled with 3.5 seconds to play. He too misfired on his attempt with the carom going to Chance Lomas, who hoisted a desperation heave that fell way short of the mark.

Garaway had somehow managed to survive.

“We were down our point guard, and we had guys playing out of position, but I loved our effort tonight, and I loved our intensity but not always our execution,” Holt said. “For four quarters we played as hard as we could.”

“This was a character-building game for us,” Rowe said. “Our mental approach tonight was excellent, even with the guys off the bench. We stayed engaged with each other, and our kids believed we could win.”

The missing link

All season long Triway has turned to Bo Flinner as its game controller. The savvy point guard has been instrumental in Triway’s success, but on this night he was unable to go, due to illness. That played a major role for Triway as Holt turned to Braden Biggs to play the point. However, the Titans desperately missed the poise and shooting of their floor general.

“We knew going in tonight that it was going to be a tough challenge without him,” Holt said of Flinner. “I thought Braden Biggs did a nice job bringing it up, but it’s tough to replace his skill and leadership.”

Welcome back Mr. Schrock

After a lengthy bout with illness, Garaway welcomed back senior Karson Schrock with open arms. Schrock may not be the flashiest player on the floor, and he is not the kid who will stand out in the crowd, but ask Rowe how much the team missed him during his absence, and he will tell you in no uncertain terms that Schrock’s return is monumental.

“Karson is still working his way back into shape, but he is such a huge part of this team’s rotation and our success,” Rowe said.

32-minute men

Not often does a coach run his starting five out there and play them an entire game, but that nearly happened for Triway as Holt kept Stokes, Walker, Braden Biggs and Bryce Biggs on the floor for the entirety of the game. Sturgin and Falkenberg basically evenly split the remaining spot as Holt basically played six players the entire night.

Toying with the lineup

With Roden and Miller in foul trouble early, Rowe had to go to a number of make-shift lineups. Unlike Holt, Rowe marched 11 players out into battle as the Garaway coach tried to figure out lineups that could contend with Triway’s enormous size advantage.

“Tonight we showed that we are very flexible defensively,” Rowe said. “We did some different things to try to disrupt them, and we held them to 22 points in the second half. We had some kids step in like Zach Immel and Bryce Bickford who gave us valuable minutes defensively.”

Miller’s marksmanship saves the day

Garaway’s best shooter proved why he can kill a team throughout this one. Miller’s 3-point acumen proved to be one of the biggest reasons Garaway got back into the game and was able to eventually overtake the Titans.

Going 6-of-8 from downtown, Holt said the Titans were to blame for allowing Miller to get too many good open looks.

“Defensively we just didn’t get out on him like we had talked about,” Holt said. “We did it right about 30 percent of the time, and that 70 percent cost us.”

By the numbers

  • Gabe Walker was huge all night. The multi-talented Titan threw in 24 points while snaring 14 rebounds and dishing out four assists.
  • Jordan Stokes was a menace underneath. Stokes scored six points and pulled down six rebounds, but his big number was the five blocks he posted in denying the Pirates the paint all night.
  • Erik Miller’s prowess from deep has already been documented above, but his skill definitely was the key to victory for the Pirates.
  • Corey Troyer didn’t have a big night in the scoring column, posting just four points, but what Troyer did do was pester the Titans all night defensively, working his way into six steals.
  • A few off games for Trevor Donaldson in scoring dissolved when he posted a 16-point effort against the Titans. He nailed four triples, dished out four assists and added a pair of steals in an all-around great game.
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