BRIMFIELD _ This season's version of the Garfield girls basketball team resembles that of the Cleveland Cavaliers of a year ago _ slow and methodical.
But it has worked, and you can't argue with success.
Monday night against host Field was no different as the G-Men rallied in the fourth quarter to squeeze by the Falcons 33-29 in a Portage County League American Division game.
With the win, Garfield (12-5, 9-3 PCL) remained a game back of league-leading Southeast and also forged a one-game lead over Field (11-7, 8-4 PCL) with one contest to play.
Trailing most of the night, the G-Men outscored the Falcons 14-5 over the final 4:51 of the game to post the important victory.
With his team having only one consistent scorer, that being Chiara Chambers, Garfield head coach Gene Troyer preaches patience on offense and Monday night he was impressed with his team's discipline.
"I was most pleased with the last two minutes. We took it to the next level in our offensive execution by seeing things and executing that play and then making the next pass off of that _ which led to a couple of big baskets right down the stretch," said Troyer.
"There are opportunities for other people to score, but we had to do something because people were playing four people on Chiara," commented Troyer on his offensive tactics. "We were playing at a tempo that we dictate when we're going to shoot. We want to reduce the number of possessions in a game to where high-percentage shots win."
Down 24-19, Garfield used a man-to-man defense to spark its comeback.
It all began when point guard Megan Stottlemire forced a Field turnover and then dropped in a short jumper. Moments later, Sarah Thompson added a hoop inside, drawing the G-Men within a point. Following a missed free throw, the 5-foot-10 Thompson stepped to the line with 2:47 remaining and sank a pair of shots giving Garfield the lead (25-24) for the first time since very early in the opening quarter.
After Field could not convert on its next trip, Thompson fed Chambers (17 points) nicely underneath the basket for an easy layup that gave Garfield a 29-26 advantage at the 1:45 mark.
Garfield continued its spurt with a Thompson (8 points) layup that capped a 10-0 run, transposing a five-point deficit into a five-point lead.
Holli Fulkerson (9 points) finally broke the Field drought with a basket with just under a minute left, but an Ashley Manlove free toss and two more by Stottlemire with 14 seconds remaining pushed the count to 32-26.
Fulkerson nailed a 3-pointer with five seconds showing, cutting the margin in half, but Garfield was able to get the ball inbounds and Samantha Foy was fouled with one tick left. She hit 1-of-2 free throws icing the win.
Field head coach Jerry Clemens pointed at himself as reason the Falcons didn't win.
"You can just blame this one on me. I didn't have them prepared," said Clemens after another narrow home loss to a PCL opponent. "I take full responsibility. This is a game we should have won and didn't. It's my fault."
Field led 9-4 after the first quarter and 16-11 at the half. Despite being held to only four third-quarter points, the Falcons still carried a 20-17 advantage into the final quarter.