STEUBENVILLE -Here's a memo for all of you out there who hate the way the Garaway girls play basketball.
The Pirates win.
Garaway may have taken its defense to a level even the Pirates have not reached before in shutting down potent Fort Frye in a classic low-scoring game in the Division III district championship game Friday night at Steubenville High.
The final score: Garaway 16, Fort Frye 10. That is correct and don't adjust your glasses.
The Pirates (22-2) return to the regional tournament at Ohio University's Convocation Center for the second straight year where they will play the winner of tonight's game between Sardinia Eastern and Ironton on Wednesday at 6:15 p.m.
"Defense is our thing," said Garaway senior guard Ally Miller. "We really focused on the defense in our scouting report in how we would play (Fort Frye) and knew that we would take what we could get offensively."
Garaway 16, Fort Frye 10
FORT FRYE (20-4) Huck 1 0-0 2, Borich 0 0-0 0, Liedtke 0 0-0 0, Tornes 0 0-0
0, Buchanan 1 0-2 2, Combs 3 0-0 6. Totals 5 0-2 10.
GARAWAY (22-2) Beachy 0 0-0 0, Miller 0 0-0 0, Kettlewell 0 0-0 0, Misko 4
0-1 8, Slemmer 1 1-2 3, Bardall 2 1-3 5, Swihart 0 0-0 0. Totals 7 2-6 16.
Fort Frye 4 2 2 2 - 10
Garaway 4 5 4 3 - 16
3-point goals - None.
What both teams got on the offensive end simply was not much. The Pirates and Cadets (20-4) made each possession an absolute battle as they defended each pass, each dribble and each cut.
It didn't matter if the ball was on the outside or had found a player near the basket. Defenders swarmed the ball, jumped in the passing lanes and generally took away any offensive rhythm. The Pirates forced several lengthy possessions by the Cadets that resulted in turnovers or missed baskets.
And none of it surprised the Pirates.
"I thought we would be here tonight, I thought it would be Fort Frye we would be playing and I knew how hard that team would play and how well coached they are," said Garaway coach Scott Bardall. "We were just a hair better. But anybody who thinks they will just get by (Fort Frye) in the next two years has something else coming - they are going to be even better."
The game featured only 51 total possessions (26 by Garaway and 25 by Fort Frye), a combined 11 points in the second half, no 3-point baskets by either team and only 12 baskets made for the whole night.
The biggest basket of the night came with less than 10 seconds left in the contest.
Garaway's Sarah Bardall missed the second of two free throws with 10.6 seconds left and the Pirates clinging to a 14-10 lead (ironically, Bardall's first free throw was the first points for Garaway in the quarter). The ball bounced off of the hands of a Fort Frye player and Garaway senior post Hallie Slemmer grabbed it and put it right back in for the clincher.
"I wasn't expecting it, but I saw it tip off her hand and it was instinct," said Slemmer. "We work on tipping the ball and grabbing tipped balls in practice and I just grabbed it."
The Cadets were frustrated from the game's start as Garaway surprised no one by working the ball on offense and playing unrelenting defense. The game was tied at 4-4 at the end of the first quarter before the Pirates held the Cadets to one basket only in each of the final three quarters.
"With the team (Garaway) has and their seniors and the experience they have in winning here last year, they played as a very determined team," said Fort Frye coach Dan Liedtke. "We had shots. It just seemed we could not get a break or make that big 3 that could have opened it up for us and given us some momentum."
The Cadets made five of 17 shots overall, and missed on the six 3-pointers they attempted. They only got to the free throw line once and both were misses Diedra Combs scored six points for Fort Frye.
Garaway made seven of 19 shots and only two of seven free throws. Sophomore Anya Misko scored eight points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead the Pirates.
Scott Bardall said his team's goal is very simple each year and this year's Pirates certainly have embraced it.
"Our goal the first day of practice is to play in Columbus," he said. "These kids will accept nothing less."
Miller echoed those thoughts.
"Our goal every season is to make it to Columbus and win the state tournament," she said. "And that's what matters to all of us."
This much is for sure: If the Pirates hold the rest of their opponents scoreless, the odds are in their favor that will indeed win that state championship. That's a joke - maybe.