Garaway Girls Basketball

Steiner’s heave sends Lady P’s to an improbable OT win over Ridgewood

Makayla Miller became an unlikely hero for Garaway in its comeback OT win

For the better part of 32 minutes, the Ridgewood Generals dominated the Garaway Lady Pirates in their Inter-Valley Conference confrontation in Sugarcreek.

Then Maddie Steiner happened.

Leading by three with a tick over three seconds left to play, Ridgewood was inbounding the ball beneath their own bucket. Head coach Doug Patterson drew up a play that had Autumn Brown going long to All-Ohio guard Audrey Tingle. Brown’s pass sailed to mid-court, where a scrum of players went up to grab it. Steiner soared higher than everyone else, grabbed the ball almost directly on the mid-court stripe, took one dribble and hoisted it as time expired. On a shot that she probably wouldn’t make one time out of 25, this one found a home at the bottom of the net, sending the game into overtime, where Garaway pulled out a heart-pounding 71-68 win.

“It feels really good,” said Steiner following the game, a game in which she hit far more than just that shot when it came to huge shots. “I still felt at that point like we still had a chance to tie the game, and we all believed in each other.”

The odds of making that shot were certainly small and even after she let it go, Steiner didn’t think it was going to connect.

“I thought it was going to be short,” Steiner said of the heave. “It’s not like I practice that shot a lot, and I’ve never done anything like that before. It was a special moment.”

That special moment didn’t seem like it would ever materialize, as the Generals dominated play form the first whistle until the two-minute mark of regulation.

Tingle and Erinn Buchanan had been really special all night, and the two had helped push Ridgewood out to a 10-point lead early that the Generals made stand throughout. Even leading by 10 at 49-39 heading into the fourth quarter, the lead seemed safe as the Lady Pirates just seemed off of their game.

That’s when the game’s hero started stepping up. Steiner hit two free throws and then a big-time three that cut the deficit to 50-46, but Ridgewood responded well, as Kalie Rettos drained a 3-pointer and Buchanan scored inside to push the lead back to nine. Steiner struck again on a put-back, but Tingle then hit a pair of free throws and scored on a nice drive to push the Ridgewood lead out to 58-48 with 2:15 to play.

It just seemed like an afterthought and Ridgewood would ride out of town having stolen a huge road win, but then Garaway’s guards began applying pressure like they hadn’t done all night. Sydney Mullet ripped a big 3-pointer, then after a turnover, she made a pair of free throws. A steal and lay-in by Haley Shutt carved the lead to 59-55, and Mullet then made a steal and fed Shutt for another lay-up and it was 59-57 with 30 seconds to play. Tingle was then fouled, and showed she has ice in her veins by hitting nothing but net on both free-throws to make it 61-57.

Garaway missed, and Buchanan was fouled with 12 seconds to play, and she nailed both free throws to give Ridgewood a seemingly safe lead at 63-57. But Miss Clutch struck again as Steiner arched in a 3-pointer to trim the lead to 63-60 with 4.3 seconds to play.

Then came the inbound play that will haunt Patterson for some time, the Generals head coach taking the weight of the loss on his own shoulders.

“That’s on me,” Patterson said. “I called the wrong play there, and it cost us. We played so well the entire game, and to have that happen hurts, and I’ll take full responsibility. It is going to be a long, sleepless night. I think maybe I’ll just walk home.”

With momentum in their corner, the Lady P’s got rolling immediately in OT, as Mullet scored on a drive and after Garaway got a stop, Shutt canned a pair of free throws. Garaway got another stop and ran some clock, and with 1:15 to play Mullet was fouled by Tingle. However, the normally dependable junior point guard missed both free throws, and Tingle raced down and dropped in a long trey to draw Ridgewood to within one with 55 seconds left.

Shutt was fouled with 25 ticks left, and she split the pair of charity tosses, leaving Garaway up by two at 68-66. A Tingle jumper hit the front iron and caromed off into a hoard of boarders, but it would be Garaway junior Makayla Miller, who has been used little this season by Coach Dave Shutt, who would grab the rebound and wrestle it away before being fouled with 14 seconds to play.

That brought up two very distinct pressure situations. The foul was on Tingle, and one score book had her with four fouls, the other with five. A lengthy debate ensued, until Tingle was officially ruled with five fouls, although there was a great deal of discrepancy.

But that long debate left Miller to ponder her two immensely big free throws. Talk about icing a player who has had very little varsity experience.

Miller responded like a seasoned All-Ohioan, dropping both tosses without even touching the rim.

“I had no idea where I was on the court when I grabbed that rebound, and when the referee blew the whistle I thought I’d stepped out of bounds,” Miller said. “The next thing I know Syd comes up to me and says, ‘M-Dog, you’re going to the line, you’re going to the line.’ I didn’t know what to do, and then the situation with Tingle happened. I just kept saying to myself, ‘Don’t let this get in your head. Don’t let this get in your head.’ I thought the first one was short, but then Sydney and Zoe (Johnson) both said they believed in me, so that really encouraged me and I made that one too. I have never been in a situation like that, ever. It feels great to be able to contribute.”

Now up four, Garaway just had to defend smart, but Mullet was called for a blocking foul at mid-court, and Brown knocked down two free throws to trim the lead to 70-68 with 11 seconds to play.

Shutt was fouled with 9.9 seconds to play, and she hit the first but missed the second, and Ridgewood had life. Brown took the inbound pass and roared down the floor, launching a running 3-pointer from the top of the key. The shot was on-line, but just a smidgen too long, and it went half way down before coming out. Buchanan grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 0.2 seconds to play, and Ridgewood’s only hope was to make the first and tip in a miss on the second. However slim that chance was evaporated when her first free throw rattled out.

“I don’t know how we won that game,” Coach Shutt said. “We didn’t do enough things to beat a team as good as Ridgewood, and we were behind the whole game. It feels like a game we won that we shouldn’t have won. They completely outplayed us the whole game. I guess give credit to our kids for persevering. Kids like Makayla for coming off the bench and coming up huge. She has been getting better and better and has earned some playing time. We kind of came out of a fog late with our defense that created a lot of easy scoring opportunities for us, and Maddie was just incredible down the stretch.”

“It’s a tough way to lose a game,” Patterson said. “Their pressure got to us late, and we made a couple of bad decisions, but we played so hard all night. We played the way we are capable of playing and haven’t all year. I am so proud of these girls for their effort tonight. It’s just going to hurt an awful lot for a while, but we talked about this, and we told the girls that this is the game that is going to be the one that turns our season around.”

*****

In a game where officials get critiqued and criticized by anyone and everyone, Patterson sang the praises of this crew.

“That was the best officiated game I have seen this year,” Patterson said. “They were great. They worked hard, worked well together and really did a great job all night.”

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