G-Men move on despite off night

By Tom Hardesty Record-Courier staff writer Published:

ROOTSTOWN _ At tournament time, coaches are primarily concerned with one thing:

Winning.

How it looked doesn't matter. What happened is immaterial. Who did what is irrelevant.

Moving on to the next round _ simple survival _ is what counts.

Garfield girls basketball coach Gene Troyer, however, doesn't necessarily buy into that philosophy. At least he didn't Tuesday night after watching his G-Men defeat Akron Our Lady of the Elms 51-35 in a Rootstown Division III sectional semifinal.

While Troyer certainly understands the importance of "Just Win, Baby" in the tournaments, he knows something else as well: play poorly once and win, you're fortunate; play poorly twice, your season is over.

Therefore, he wasn't overly thrilled about watching his G-Men (14-7) fail to put away a 1-20 Our Lady of the Elms team until the late going.

"Elms was very loose and I expected that," said Troyer, whose team advances to Thursday night's sectional finals against Aurora (5-15) at 7:30 p.m. "I knew they would play hard and they did. They did a nice job.

"Mentally, we were not ready to play. Maybe we were a little jittery at the beginning of the game. I think that showed because of our lack of tournament experience. We'll take the win, obviously; but if we play like this on Thursday, that will be our last game."

Garfield trailed most of the first period.

After leading 4-0, the G-Men watched as the Panthers came back to grab a 5-4 lead. Two free throws by senior Chiara Chambers, who finished with 15 points (9 in the second half), put Garfield up 6-5.

But Elms scored the next four points _ three by Christine Fedecky _ to go up 9-6, the Panthers' largest lead of the night.

Chambers hit a short jumper to cut it to 9-8 after one, then the G-Men took control of the game by scoring the first 12 points of the second period to go on top 20-9. Senior Sarah Thompson (game-high 16 points) scored seven in the run.

Garfield took a 24-14 lead into intermission and had a 33-25 advantage after three quarters, but never really was able to deliver the knockout blow.

The G-Men did push the margin to 41-27 early in the fourth, but a three-point play by Jeannie Gaeto (13 points) brought Elms within 41-30.

And the lead was still only 10 (43-33) with three minutes to go when Thompson came up with a big three-point play to make it 46-33 and finally put the Panthers away.

But Troyer never relaxed until the final buzzer sounded.

"All it was gonna take was two quick 3-pointers by them and anything could have happened," he said. "I was concerned, yes. That's how upsets happen in the tournaments. The favored team comes out tight, the underdog hangs around and you have the makings of an upset. Fortunately, we were able to keep our lead around 10 points most of the way.

"If there's a positive, it's that we didn't show anything. Anybody scouting this game tonight didn't see a thing from us."

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