STEUBENVILLE - A little bit of confidence.
That's all it took to spark a 16-2, first-quarter run that propelled Garaway to a 61-37 triumph Thursday night against Harrison Central in an Ohio Division III district semifinal inside Steubenville High School's Crimson Center.
''At tournament time you have some jitters stepping on a new court'' Pirates coach Jim Monigold said. ''We had a couple of good looks early that didn't fall, but once we had a few buckets fall, the momentum turned our way.
Photo by SETH STASKEY
Harrison Central’s Jesse Ledger drives to the basket Thursday night.
''We got a few offensive rebounds and some good things started to happen.''
After the Huskies' Shianne Nameth canned a pair of free throws to tie the game at 6-6, Garaway reeled off 13 unanswered.
Leading the way was Courtney Putt. The Eastern District Player of the Year hit back-to-back 3s - part of her 21-point night on 8 of 9 shooting - giving the Pirates a 16-6 advantage with 2:17 left in the opening period.
''That little run stunned us a little bit,'' said Harrison Central coach Nick Yourkovich, himself the Eastern District Coach of the Year. ''From there, their aggressiveness sort of took over.
''From that point on, they were just a step ahead of us, one step quicker than us and one step better than us.''
The Pirates (22-3) return to Steubenville at 7 on Saturday night to face Fort Frye for the district title and spot in the Sweet 16 at Logan High School.
Garaway's victory was its third straight tagainst an OVAC foe. In besting Martins Ferry, Union Local and, now, Harrison Central, the Pirates have allowed an average of 31 points per game.
''Things have really picked up the last five or six games for us,'' Monigold said. ''The defensive intensity has really been unbelievable. We're putting teams in positions they're not used to.''
Yourkovich said Garaway's defense is its best offense.
''Their defense fuels their offense,'' he said. ''Putt is really good. She's probably the best all-around player we've seen all year. And then, (Izzy) Meese, their point guard, she pushes the ball and runs it well for them.
''They just took us out of our game.''
Katie Ellzy scored three points to start the second half for the Huskies. Then, Nameth, who finished with a team-high 13, drained a 3 making the score 39-24. But the Pirates answered with an 8-0 run, featuring four players scoring, upping the lead to 47-24. The Pirates normally go seven or eight players deep.
''When Courtney (Putt) is on the court, everyone else is that much better,'' Monigold said. ''But we have a lot of girls that we can go to at any time.
''You just can't focus on her because we have a lot of girls that can hurt you.''
Yourkovich didn't hang his head following the loss. In fact, he was quite upbeat. And who could blame him? His team won the school's first OVAC crown, produced the school's first 20-victory season, and brings back a solid core for next year.
''It was certainly a great season for us,'' he said. ''I told the girls there are only four teams in Ohio that end their seasons with wins. Hopefully, we can get to that point one day.
''They did some great things. No one will forget what they did.''