DECATUR – Perfection ended for Garrett in an imperfect performance in the Bellmont Class 3A girls basketball regional semifinals Saturday morning.
The No. 3 Railroaders’ offense struggled in a 48-35 loss to Muncie Central that ended their undefeated season.
“I thought we had a good chance today,” Garrett coach Bob Lapadot said. “I figured we could score 50 and win, and that turned out to be true. We just couldn’t make a basket.”
Coming into the game, Garrett (23-1) gave up 34.8 points per game, 11th best in the state and scored 55.1 on offense.
Garrett made 13 of 34 (38 percent) from the field, including 1 of 6 on 3-pointers.
The Railroaders were also 8 of 15 from the free-throw line.
Garrett trailed 26-23 at halftime and was outscored 22-12 in the third quarter.
The Railroaders turned the ball over on five straight possessions at one point in the third.
“We got a little rattled … and we put ourselves into positions where we didn’t know what to do with the ball, and that got us in trouble,” Lapadot said. “We were up seven and threw the ball away on five straight possessions and suddenly we are down three. We never got the ball where we needed to get it.”
The Railroaders scored only 12 points in the second half.
“They were pressing two people,” Lapadot said. “They pressed Brandi (Dawson) and Katie (Wisel), and that’s what got us in bad positions. We got trapped on the side and couldn’t get the ball back.”
Dawson led the Railroaders with 17 points, while Taylor Smith added 13.
“They put a lot of pressure on us, and they took it to a whole ‘nother level,” Dawson said.
This season, the Railroaders won the ACAC regular-season and tournament titles in their last season in the conference before rejoining the NECC next season.
It’s the first undefeated regular season for a Garrett girls program and the second in school history.
But critics pointed toward Garrett’s strength of schedule not preparing the Railroaders for the postseason.
That turned out to not be the case.
“For all the naysayers that we have had all year, to do what we did … I don’t care who you play it is hard to go undefeated,” Lapadot said.
Garrett then surprised some by beating No. 5 and two-time state champion Concordia in the sectional finals last week.
It was the Railroaders’ first sectional title in 3A after winning 11 in 2A.
“Those memories will last forever,” Lapadot said. “This will sting for awhile, and we know what we could’ve probably done but what we did this year is definitely something we can look back on and be proud of.
“It was one of those days where it didn’t go our way.”
Muncie Central, long renowned for its boys basketball program, was making its first girls regional appearance since 1997 and first in the class basketball era.