By SETH STASKEY
For The Intelligencer
URICHSVILLE - St. Clairsville had the exact kind of game it wanted.
The Red Devils, however, didn't get the ending they had envisioned Friday night at Claymont High School in a Division III sectional co-final against Garaway.
Utilizing its sticky defense to make the game methodical, St. C. appeared to be on its way to the Division III district tournament next Tuesday at Ohio University Eastern leading by seven more than midway through the fourth quarter.
As the Pirates have proven time and time again during their history, they're going to be a tough out and that was the case once again as they won 50-49.
Garaway got the game into overtime when Broc Beachy calmly hit three free throws after being fouled while unloading a desperation heave with the clock showing all zeros.
Eventually, the game got to a second overtime and the Pirates' Ty Hamsher stepped in the passing lane for a steal and raced for an uncontested transition layup that proved to be the game winner, allowing the Pirates (16-8) to advance with a 50-49 victory.
"This is tough," said St. C. coach Kim Clifford moments after addressing his team for the final time. "We had chances, but give Garaway credit. They battled and did what they had to do. Our really left it out there tonight and played really, really hard. We just needed one more bucket."
St. Clairsville was on the verge of delivering a knock-out blow when sophomore Brendan Ferns meshed two foul shots, putting the Devils up, 34-27.
A goal by sophomore Patrick Buchanan, who played arguably his best game of the season with 15 points, put the Devils back up by five at 36-31.
The Devls answered a Garaway conventional three-point play with a trey from senior Jared Derosa, but the Pirates still didn't wilt. Beachy tallied and the Pirates began to foul.
"We missed some front ends (of one-and-ones), which hurt," Clifford said.
The Red Devils got one-of-two at the again with less than 15 seconds to go. Garaway raced the ball into the front court and called for a time out.
St. C. - with fouls to give - committed a personal, forcing another in-bound try with just under two seconds showing. The ball was inbounded to Beachy and the Devils were whistled for another personal.
"(The official) said we fouled, so we fouled him," Clifford said. "Give (Beachy) credit for making all three shots with no time on the clock."
Garaway coach Dave Shutt admitted to starting to lose hope down the stretch of regulation.
"I was looking (at my assistants) and was like, 'wow, it's over," Shutt said. "But, our kids found a way. I don't know how we did it, but we did. I guess it was grit and determination."
The Red Devils didn't record a field goal in either of the extra sessions. Buchanan drained a pair to put St. C. up, 45-43, but Josh Werker answered to knot the game.
Working the clock down, St. C. got a good look on a kick out to end the first overtime, but it was too strong.
Buchanan was fouled again taking it to the bucket early in the second OT and drained both free throws, but Werker answered for the Pirates with one-of-two at the line. After an empty possession by both teams, senior Joel Giffin, who produced a double-double in his final outing, was fouled and drained both, putting St. C. on top, 49-46.
"I thought we played smart by continuing to take it at them (on offense)," Clifford said. "We were going to get chances to score and it just happened to be free throws because we were not going to take a bad shot."
After three attempts, Hamsher tallied for the Pirates, shaving the deficit to one. Electing not to foul immediately, the Pirates got the turnover they'd hoped for and took the lead.
St. C. (11-12) drove the length of the court and got to the rim, but the shot wouldn't drop, sealing the Pirates' trip to St. Clairsville on Tuesday.
"I thought we might have gotten a little bit better fate (at the end), but we didn't," Clifford said. "We did what we had to do (on that last shot), but it just didn't go in."
Both teams used the first half as a feeling out process. St. Clairsville trailed 8-5 after one and 15-14 at the intermission.
"Coach (Ryan) Clifford and I joked at halftime that we thought the first team to 30 could just call it quits and go home," Shutt said. "I thought St. C. played really well. I think we underestimated Buchanan. He had a nice all-around game tonight. We got solid contributions of tangible things that you always preach to the kids about from a lot of guys."
Buchanan's production paced St. C. Giffin tallied 10 points and collected 11 rebounds. Freshman Michael Scarnecchia added nine, while Derosa scored all eight of his points in the fourth quarter when St. C. tallied 17 points.
"We had one guy, who played (a lot), back from last year and to put a team together and compete the way we did with so many young kids ... I am just really proud of this team," Clifford said. "I know it sounds cliche, but our senior led us and did everything we asked of them."
Garaway was led by Werker's 16. Sam Gebhardt had a quiet 11 in top support.
The Pirates will next face Fort Frye in Tuesday's 6 p.m. contest.