Photos by Landon Troyer
Yes, Union Local may have been the top seed in the boys Div. III East District basketball tournament bracket. However, as a number-three seed, the Garaway Pirates really didn’t care what the seeding numbers looked like. They only cared about what the final numbers on the scoreboard looked like after the final horn had sounded in their East District semifinal contest Tuesday, March 6 at Cambridge High School.
Those numbers went Garaway’s way as the Pirates doled out a 59-39 win over the Jets in a game that saw the Pirates rule through defense and ride the strong shoulders of junior Ethan Roden and Erik Miller.
While Garaway may have been the lower seed, the Pirates looked like anything but as they established dominance early, played tremendous basketball throughout and never let the Jets sniff the lead.
“Our defensive intensity was there all night long,” Garaway head coach Terry Rowe said. “That’s a talented Union Local team. We beat them in a close one last year, and they had a great core of players back from that team, so we expected a big challenge. But I thought we came in with good confidence, and we competed all night.”
Garaway started strong and stayed strong for the most part, getting out to a 16-12 lead after one quarter. The Pirates built that lead throughout the second period to forge a healthy 29-17 lead at halftime. However, the start of the third period saw the Jets mount their only serious comeback bid, and an 8-0 run saw them claw their way back to within six points in the third period. Rowe called a time-out, his team took a deep breath and regrouped, and then they came out with guns firing.
The Pirates went on a 7-0 run to end the third quarter to push the lead back to 13 at 41-28, then tacked on four more to begin the fourth period for a stunning 11-0 run that sealed the deal.
“That was just our kids settling in and making plays,” Rowe said of the run.
With the win Garaway improved to 17-8 while Union Local ends its successful season at 20-4.
Roden paced the Pirates with 17 points and 24 rebounds. Trevor Donaldson added 15 points while Miller had eight points and 13 rebounds. The rebounding dominance played a key role on the night for Garaway. Cal Kildow led the Jets with 14 points, 16 fewer points than he posted in Union Local’s win one game earlier.
As for facing the number-one seed, Rowe said he felt like this season’s schedule prepared them well for the rigors of tournament play. A look back through the schedule proves that the Pirates indeed played plenty of top competition. Its eight losses were all to gifted basketball teams, and that was something Rowe knew would be advantageous coming into tournament play.
“I keep telling the kids that we have played some really good competition this year, and everyone we have lost to was a very good basketball team,” Rowe said. “Everyone we lost to was still playing tonight [in districts], and that says a lot about the caliber of teams we have competed against. We have seen a lot of different styles and been faced with all kinds of challenges, and I think that truly helped get us get ready for games like this.”
Garaway now faces a familiar foe in the Div. III East District final in Ridgewood, an Inter-Valley Conference foe it has seen twice this season. In their previous two encounters, the Pirates have beaten the Generals by scores of 84-70 and 71-55, but Rowe knows the Generals can be dangerous, and Ridgewood is currently playing at its best since the season began. That is why he said there is no way his team will take anything for granted, especially since the Generals just got done bouncing East District number-two-seed Sandy Valley from the tournament with a 70-65 victory.
“They have played terrific basketball at the end of the year, and they have gotten better and better,” Rowe said of the Generals. “They have a talented group of players, and if you don’t bring your ‘A’ game, they can really take it at you.”
The two teams will square off Friday, March 9 at Dover High School.
To see more photos from this game or to find photos to purchase, visit Landon Troyer at www.photosbylkt.pixieset.com/.