GNADENHUTTEN - Shadyside junior Karli Bonar has been dialing in 3-point goals basically her entire life, but she's been doing so with tremendous frequency this season.
Of the 98 she's drained thus far, it was the 96th of the season that will jump out at Tigers faithful for days -possibly years -to come as Shadyside rallied from as many as eight down to pull out a 43-35 victory against perennial Division III district entrant Garaway, which is in the smallest division for the first time.
The victory propels the Tigers to Friday's Division IV Eastern District title game against the winner of tonight's encounter at Indian Valley, which finds River against Hiland.
After watching the Pirates score on the interior with just a few seconds to go in the first half, Bonar took the inbounds pass, got to halfcourt and unloaded a shot that found nothing but the bottom of the net for a 21-2 deadlock at halftime of Tuesday's game at Indian Valley High School.
From there, it was as Tigers coach Tina Yates called it, "a new game.''
"That was a huge momentum swing to carry into the locker room," Yates said. "It was an even game with 16 minutes to go."
Bonar, who admitted she's taken that shot from time to time in practice, but mostly for fun, finished with seven 3-pointers and 24 points in the game. First-year Garaway coach Adam Hall pointed out quickly that while Bonar's buzzer beater was big, the fact that she had hit three triples earlier in the second was probably a bigger factor in the Tigers' rally.
"I don't care about the one at the end of the half because that's a 1 in a 100 shot," Hall said. "Give all of the credit to Bonar because she's a player. She was hitting difficult shots. We had our game plan centered around her and she hit (shots)."
The Tigers took their first with 4:11 to play in the third on a 3-pointer from sophomore Toni Andes. Bonar connected again on the ensuing possession, but the Pirates finished with four straight points, knotting the game at 29-29 after three.
Bonar dialed distance again to open the fourth quarter to put Shadyside on top for what proved to be for good.
"We've been working on screening to get (Karli) more looks,'' Yates said. "She's been reading the screens pretty well and we've been getting her the ball. Then she does what she does best ... shoot."
Junior running mate Hayley Holenka got a steal, drive and hoop and after another Garaway turnover, Bonar put the ball on the floor and got inside for her lone two-point field goal, making it a 36-29 game with just under 5 minutes to play.
The Pirates showed their resolve and answered the flurry with six in a row, making it a 36-35 reading with less than 3 minutes to play, thanks to buckets by senior Rachelle Putt, sophomore Courtney Putt and junior Anya Misko, who was a thorn in the Tigers' side all evening.
"We talked the last couple of days about being in these kinds of games before," Yates said. "We know we just have to trust and believe in each other."
The Tigers held Garaway scoreless the remainder of the game and meshed 7 of 9 from the line in the final moments after some hard, but legal, fouls by the Tuscarawas County crew.
Included in the free-throw shooting was a 4 of 4 effort by senior Brooke Meintel, who scored only six points after being saddled with early foul trouble.
Bonar was the lone double-figure scorer. Holenka added eight points and also passed out four assists and had three steals.
Garaway was led by Misko, who scored 19 points and had six rebounds. Courtney Putt added 12.