Third time’s the charm… for Pirates, who put old adage to rest in 69-47 win over Hawks

James Wagler Photos

“It’s hard to beat a good team three times.”

Nobody is quite sure who it was that first made that quote, but it was a big topic of conversation around dining room tables, restaurants and water coolers all over the Berlin and Sugarcreek communities as the Pirates and Hawks prepared to square off for the third time this season.

In the first two games, Garaway had pulled out close, hard-fought wins, a 41-39 win at Garaway and a 49-44 win at Hiland.

Every one of the 2,000-plus fans jammed into New Philadelphia High School’s gymnasium Friday, March 4 had every expectation that this one would follow suit in going down to the wire.
Then there is all of the pressure Garaway faced in having to beat a good Hiland team a third time.

However, as University of Maine head basketball coach told his players one year, “We don’t have to beat them three times tonight, we only have to beat them once.”

Not only did Garaway beat Hiland a third time to debunk that old adage, they played a nearly flawless second half in hammering Hiland 69-47, making it three straight over the Hawks this season.

“We kept hearing people talk about us not being able to beat them three times, and how tough it would be,” said Garaway senior Broc Beachy, who played a sensational game. “We knew we had to just put that aside and go out and get it done.”

Garaway head coach Dave Shutt said they addressed that scenario with the team one time, and then went to work preparing the way they have all season long. In the early going, it looked like another classic Pirates v. Hawks battle.

Noah Sommers (video) scored inside twice as the Hawks got off to a 6-2 lead, but after Sam Gebhardt hit a jumper, Cameron miller hit the first of six Garaway first-half triples to give Garaway a 7-6 lead. Hiland senior Bruce Troyer hit a jumper to knot things up again at 12 as time was running down in the first quarter, but Dallas Foster and Beachy each nailed trifectas to end the quarter with Garaway leading 18-12.

That started a trend of five straight possessions that resulted in 3-pointers. Beachy hit another to begin the second quarter, but Hiland got a pair from Turner Horn and Brady Schlabach to make it 21-18. Later in the quarter, Cam Miller connected from deep for the Pirates, but Horn hit again from downtown to trim the Pirate lead to four at 28-24.

Garaway stretched the lead to 30-24 before Gebhardt gave Garaway some big momentum by canning a trey at the buzzer for a 33-24 lead at the break.

Knowing they would face the wrath of a fired up Hawks’ defense in the second half, Garaway came out prepared to play that much harder in the second half. What resulted was as perfect of a half as is possible to play.

“We know how Hiland plays, and we knew they would come out hard in the second half, because they always play hard,” said Beachy. “We had to match their intensity and then add some.”

They did, and it translated into 16 minutes of textbook hoops.

“I can’t remember us playing that well for a half,” said Shutt of the Pirates’ second 16 minutes.

It began with a Cam Miller 3-pointer.(video) Gebhardt hit a jumper for a 14-point lead. Michael Miller tried to keep the Hawks close, scoring inside then draining a long-ball to trim the lead to 40-29, but Garaway’s defense was relentless, its offense highly effective. It’s height allowed Garaway to go over the top of Hiland’s pressuring line-up. It’s poise and experience was impressive.

Another Foster three and Hamsher’s buzzer-beating drive had Garaway up 50-33 heading into the final quarter.

“They played really well,” said Hiland coach Mark Schlabach. “They just outplayed us. It started in the second quarter. They just out-executed us.”

Cam Miller and Scott Troyer traded and-ones to make it 53-38, but Garaway simply was not going to back down from the challenge of winning three times over the Hawks this season.

“The way they executed, and the way they shot the ball, they made it incredibly difficult to come back,” said Schlabach. “If we had been able to keep it close, I think the pressure would have shifted to them, we just weren’t able to do it.”

Hamsher led Garaway with 16 points, but impressively, four other Pirates reached double figures. Foster scored 13 while grabbing seven rebounds, Miller added a dozen and Gebhardt scored 11. Hiland was led by Horn’s 12 points, while Michael Miller (video) added 10. Scott Troyer and Bruce Troyer both tacked on six for the Hawks.

Garaway’s incredibly efficient effort saw them make 9-of-15 3-pointers while going 24-of-41 from the field. But it was the total team effort that was by far the most impressive part of the win.

As for putting the “three times” theory to rest once and for all, Foster summed up what this opportunity meant to his team.

“As soon as we heard that Hiland was moving to D-III we knew there was a possibility that we could play them three times,” said Foster. “You kind of hope that they might get knocked off, but at the same time you hope that you get that opportunity to play them again, because competitors want to play great programs like that. It feels great to be able to get them for that third time.”

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Dr. Tom moomaw

    Mar 7, 2016 at 5:35 pm

    Dave. Really enjoy ur website to follow pirate sports. I am a 1966 Garaway grad and live in Hartville so thanks for the great job u do. I hope ur football coverage is as good. Thanks.

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