‘Putting it away’ a big theme in Titans’ 67-59 win over Pirates

Triway's David Nolen brushes past Garaway's Erik Miller

There was one telling tale in Triway’s 67-59 win over Garaway in boys basketball on Friday, Feb. 1 at The Pit at Triway High School, and it is called putting a game away.

Garaway had two cracks at doing just that and couldn’t get it done, but when finally provided the chance, the Titans proved they could, surging ahead for good late after trailing the entire first three quarters.

“We’ve got to get better at putting teams away when we have the opportunity, and that is something we told our players,” Garaway head coach Terry Rowe said. “There have been numerous times this year when we get that eight-, 10-, 12-point lead, and we have to tighten things up and extend it to 15 and put games away. You can’t let good teams hang around like that and hope to win. You have to take it, and we have let too many good teams back into games this season. We have to learn how to stay mentally engaged the entire game.”

For Triway head coach Ben Holt, seeing his team not only hang in there in the face of adversity the entire game but to put it in the win column when they had a chance was gratifying.

“That’s a very good basketball team that puts pressure on you the whole game, especially offensively,” Holt said. “Our last three quarters may have been the best basketball we have played all year. We were tenacious, trying to touch basketballs on the defensive end, and for the most part we held them to one shot. Plus we were very unselfish, and for that I am proud of our kids. We preach that kind of play all the time, and we have seen pockets of it this season, and tonight we got it, and without that kind of effort, we wouldn’t have won.”

The Pirates looked fairly invincible early on as they built a nice lead and looked ready to put this one in the win column.

Austin Monigold got things started with a 3-pointer, and Austin Fearon also hit a trey for Garaway. The Titans got an and-one from Kyle Sturgin and a score inside from Chase Wells.

Garaway heated up and scored six straight on scores inside from Ethan Roden, Fearon and Corey Troyer. A Chance Wells put-back and David Nolen drive cut the Pirates’ lead to three, but the quarter ended on Fearon’s triple, and he added two free throws for a 17-9 lead.

When Roden scored inside and Troyer drove baseline for a score, the Pirates led 21-9 and appeared to be ready to seize control.

It would not happen.

After a Triway time-out, Chance Wells scored inside, then hit two free throws before Bryce Biggs knocked down a long trey to get Triway within 21-16. The rest of the half would see scoring slow, and Biggs’ three got the Titans within four at 25-21 before Roden capped off the half with a score inside to give the Pirates a 27-21 half-time lead.

The third quarter would see Garaway again build a double-digit lead, only to squander it later. Fearon hit a pair of free throws, and Roden scored in the paint to push the Pirates out to a 39-29 lead. Again the game seemed to teeter on the precipice of falling away from Triway.

“We didn’t play to the top of our ability in the first quarter, but we really started turning things around in the second quarter and played inspiring basketball the rest of the way,” Holt said. “We got on the kids and told them they had to be better, and they responded with a terrific effort.”

But Triway dug deep, and Biggs hit another long three and scored on a jumper. Chance Wells and Travis Burkholder got the Titans to within 39-38. Troyer made a nice drive for an and-one, but Burkholder’s drive ended the third quarter with the Titans knocking on the door again, trailing just 42-40.

“I thought a key was Bryce being able to extend their defense with the deep ball, and then we didn’t just settle for threes. We started taking advantage of the openings inside that his shot created,” Holt said. “We’ve settled too much for threes lately, so it was nice to see us attacking them once they started to pick up their pressure.”

Roden gave the Pirates some momentary breathing room with a bucket inside, but it was Triway’s turn, and their demonstration of persistence was about to pay off. Biggs hit another trey from deep, and with six minutes left to play, Nolen gave Triway its first lead at 45-44. Chance Wells then ignited the home faithful when he fought to pull an offensive rebound away from Roden, spun quickly to his left, and produced a score and a foul, Roden’s fourth. His free throw gave the Titans a 48-44 lead.

Fearon drove for two, but Burkholder answered with two free throws and set the tone for a terrific effort from the charity stripe in the fourth period for Triway.

Roden scored to trim the Pirates’ deficit to two, but Triway was ready to put forth its effort to put a game away. Unlike Garaway, it would succeed.

Channer Wells hit a runner in the lane, Chance Wells hit a turn-around jumper in the lane and Sturgin scored inside. Suddenly the Pirates were reeling, trailing 58-48. Erik Miller awoke from a game-long slumber and canned two 3-pointers around a pair of Burkholder free throws to make it 60-54, and after Triway missed the front end of two one-and-ones, Garaway had its opportunity, but a turnover and a missed 3-pointer allowed the Titans to begin a series of trips to the free throw line that would prove advantageous.

Fearon would hit a three, and Troyer would score inside, but four straight free throws from Chance Wells and two more from Channer Wells would help the Titans seal the deal.

“That was the best we have handled pressure all year, and the biggest reason for that was that we remained aggressive and in attack mode and we weren’t playing defensively, and our ability to knock down free throws was huge for us,” Holt said.

Chance Wells and Biggs were monsters for Triway, scoring 22 and 20 points, respectively, with Biggs dropping in five 3-pointers, but this was a true team effort. Nolen added eight, Sturgin scored five, and Burkholder and Channer Wells each tacked on six for the winners. Fearon had a huge game for Garaway, netting 24 points, while Roden added 14 and Miller and Troyer both scored nine. Roden grabbed 11 boards while Miller snared 10 for the Pirates. Channer Wells hauled down seven and Sturgin added six to lead the Titans in rebounding.

However, the one statistic that irked Rowe was his team’s large turnover numbers.

“We can’t turn the ball over 15 times against a team that doesn’t come out and pressure us,” Rowe said. “On top of that we missed some wide-open shots in the paint at key times, and you can’t beat a talented team that can shoot well doing those things. That was a very disappointing loss, but we have to use this to make us better for game 23, game 24, game 25 and so on. We did some really good things the first 20 minutes of the game, especially offensively, and while it is disappointing we can’t change the outcome, we can only learn from mistakes and get better from it.”

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