GARRETT – In the end, unbeaten overcame inexperience for Garrett.
The No. 3-ranked Railroaders continued their perfect and record-setting season with their most impressive win of the year, pulling away from No. 5 Concordia 49-39 to claim the Class 3A Garrett Sectional on Saturday night.
Not only was it the first sectional title for Garrett since 2011 and first-ever in 3A, but it came against the Cadets, winners of four straight sectionals and two state titles.
Garrett, now 23-0, will face Muncie Central (17-5) at 10 a.m. Saturday in the first game of the Bellmont Regional.
Winning a sectional is great, but this is a very special team, and what means the most to me is I get to spend another week with them coach Bob Lapadot said amid a raucous celebration around him. The trophies are great, the banner will be up forever. But this journey that we’re on, at most, has got three more weeks, and we want to make the most out of it.
Although it never trailed after the opening two minutes of the game, Garrett could never pull away from Concordia (19-4) and held a 27-25 lead entering the final quarter.
But in the first two minutes of the quarter, Kaitlin Wisel hit a jump shot, Brandi Dawson scored in transition and Taylor Smith got a rebound basket to make it 33-25.
The Cadets cut the lead to 33-28 with 4:42 to play, at which time Lapadot called a timeout and challenged his team.
I told these guys with about four minutes to go, Here’s where your naysayers, you’re going to prove them right or wrong.’ I never heard Concordia was the better team. I’ve heard they’ve played better teams and they’ve been there before. So I said, Prove that that doesn’t matter.’ And we did.
Garrett did not hit another shot the rest of the quarter, but hit 16 of 20 free throws.
Dawson led the Railroaders with 16 points, 13 of them coming in the second half. Wisel added 15, including nine in the decisive fourth quarter. Perhaps more importantly, the two seniors led a defense that held Concordia stars DeJour Young and Courtney Smith and eight and nine points.
I thought we did a really job for the most part, Wisel said. We let someone else take the shots and try to beat us. Our defense won us the game. On the floor our energy was up the whole game. It was really great to come out with the win.
The Cadets shot just 25 percent for the game and hit just 3 of 15 in the final quarter.
They just kind of pack in their man defense and just do a nice job, Concordia coach Dave Miller said. It’s real simple. And we didn’t make shots. We had kids who had open looks and nothing went in.