Had David been around to fight Goliath in modern day, he may well have turned to the Garaway Pirates’ book, “How to Beat a Giant in Five Easy Steps,” for advice.
Garaway met Div. III’s 7th-ranked Oak Hill Oaks in a Div. III regional semifinal game on Wednesday, March 14 at the Convention Center at Ohio University.
The order of the day was to take down an extremely talented and big Oak Hill team that came rolling into the game at 23-2.
Garaway head coach and book author Terry Rowe designed a game plan. The Pirates bolted to an early 17-4 lead and never looked back in following Rowe’s game plan word for word in a 52-39 win.
“How to Beat a Giant in Five Easy Steps”
Chapter One: Punch a Giant
The only way Garaway could let the Oaks know they weren’t intimidated was to throw a haymaker and see how the Oaks responded. The only way to do that was to get off to a good start. The Pirates one-upped that premise and got off to a great start.
Erik Miller kick-started the run with a 3-pointer, and after Mason Darby scored inside for the Oaks, Corey Troyer scored on a drive, Trevor Donaldson connected on two free throws and Austin Fearon drove for a score to give the Pirates a 9-2 lead.
Darby connected from the paint again, but Miller hit a three-ball, Donaldson drove for a score and then hit a triple, and the Pirates led 17-4.
Chapter Two: Make the Giant Chase
In order to get Oak Hill out of its comfort zone on defense, Garaway needed the big lead it had forged. Ahead 17-6 through one quarter, the Pirates were able to force the Oaks to come out after them. That helped open up the paint and create some cracks in the armor, and the Pirates’ fleet-footed guards took full advantage as guys like Austin Fearon and Corey Troyer sliced and diced to the hole to wreak havoc. Oak Hill is not a chasing kind of team, and Garaway was able to play its game with abandonment.
Troyer did some damage throughout the second period, and while Mitchell Hale got the Oaks closer, they were only able to close the gap to 25-18 at the half.
Chapter Three: Respect the Ball
In a game in which the underdog is facing a top team, the aforementioned underdog must take very good care of the ball. Garaway treated the basketball like it was a rock of gold, committing only five turnovers.
While the Pirates struggled shooting the three early in the second half, Oak Hill missed a golden opportunity to make its move when it committed a couple of turnovers amidst Garaway’s four straight misfires from downtown. Darby scored inside during that stretch to trim the Garaway lead to 25-20, but Malik Shaffer’s three seemed to lift the lid for the Pirates.
Leading 29-23, Ethan Roden, who had been held in check without a score in the game’s first 18 minutes, made a key steal and scored. He scored again moments later when Shaffer found him with a nice pass. He then drove inside for another quick score to push the lead out to 35-23. Landon Carroll hit a trey, but the Pirates responded with a Troyer steal and score and Roden’s free throw. Garaway maintained its double-figure lead throughout the fourth period by taking excellent care of the ball.
Chapter Four: Lean on the Biggest Giant
Oak Hill big man Mason Darby can present some huge problems in the paint for teams. Garaway’s strategy seemed to be to take it at the big guy and get him in foul trouble. That was exactly what happened as he picked up two early, and the Pirates smelled blood in the water.
When he picked up his third and fourth in the third period, Roden took full advantage of his inability to challenge, and after getting shut down in the first half, he exploded for 13 second-half points. When Fearon pierced through the defense and drove right at Darby, he forced the big man to challenge for one final time. With 4:21 to play, Darby was done for the night.
Chapter Five: Be a Team
David had to take on Goliath by himself. OK true, he had God on his side, but from a human standpoint, he was all by himself. The Pirates had each other.
The best way to beat a great team is to play total team ball, and Garaway did that all night. In the first quarter Miller and Donaldson took their turn. It was Troyer in the second quarter, Roden took charge in the second half and Fearon, Troyer and Shaffer did a nice job of dribble drive and penetrate all night long to set up some quality looks for the Pirates.
That actually allowed the Pirates to maximize their shot selection, and while Garaway went 5-of-15 from beyond the arc, inside they were nearly flawless, making an impressive 13-of-20 action shots from two-point range.
In the end Roden and Miller each scored 13 points, Troyer added 10 off the bench, Donaldson scored nine, Fearon chipped in with four, and Shaffer tacked on three.
It also was a total team effort that led Garaway to a 29-27 lead on the glass with Miller and Roden leading the way with eight and six rebounds, respectively.
The fourth quarter saw Hale get hot as he single-handedly kept the Oaks within shouting distance, but again, Garaway played team ball, and four different Pirates scored late to secure the victory.
Epilogue: The D is Key
Garaway has played extremely hard on defense all year. It has buckled down and dug deep when it has had to, but it was not one of Rowe’s chapters because it is an ever-present part of Garaway’s effort.
On this night the defense again reigned supreme and played a key role in shutting down a powerhouse Oaks offense.
By speeding up the clock, thanks to its huge early lead, the Pirates made the giant chase it. The giant struggled to keep pace and never could find stable footing.
“How to Beat a Giant” should be coming to bookstores near every coach, who would do well to read it thoroughly and follow it to a tee.