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ACAC Semi final - Star article

January 16, 2013
By Bob Lapadot of Garrett High School

FORT WAYNE — The post game was there all night for Garrett.

The Railroader girls used it to survive a jittery first half and get Heritage in crippling foul trouble, and also used it to take command in the second half.

As a result, freshman six-footer Taylor Smith had a huge night with 22 points, and Garrett pulled away to a 62-44 win over the Patriots in the semifinals of the Allen County Athletic Conference tournament at the Memorial Coliseum.

The Railroaders (11-4) take a nine-game win streak into Saturday’s final at noon against — who else — Leo (12-3), which demolished Adams Central 59-26 in Thurday’s first game. Brandi Dawson added 15 points, and gave Garrett some needed energy in the second quarter after the team’s shaky start. Kaitlin Wisel added 12 points and Emily Somers had 10 as the Railroaders put four scorers in double figures.

Heritage (10-6) got 15 points from Hannah Beckman.

Garrett got the ball inside to Smith consistently, both from passes and dribble penetration. Heritage’s two starting post players, Miriah Bradtmueller and Kendall Knapke, both had three fouls before halftime, and both fouled out before the end of the third quarter.

“With a player like Taylor, one of our goals is always to pound the ball into her,” Garrett coach Bob Lapadot said. “Obviously, we didn’t think we’d draw as many fouls. We saw some things on tape we thought we might be able to do, and once we got the jitters out of the way, we executed those pretty well.

“We only have one player who’s every played here before, so they were a little nervous.”

Beckman hit two threes and set up two hoops by Bradtmueller as Heritage sprinted to a 15-7 lead early. Dawson hit two threes in the second quarter, however, and also made a coast-to-coast dash for a basket after a block.

The Railroaders seemed to be more settled heading to the locker room up 23-21.

“We have two things we try to focus on, defense and free throws,” Lapadot said. “The first quarter, we played no defense at all. The second quarter, we turned around and made no free throws (actually 2-of-6). “We didn’t let the game get out of hand. We were ahead. I told them we get to start over, we have a two-point lead, we have no foul trouble and they have a bunch, so let’s just go do what we said we were going to do. That’s exactly what we did.”

Emily Somers seized the second chance, taking the ball to the hoop for a three-point play, then feeding Smith, who turned in another three-point play, putting Garrett up 30-23. That started a personal streak of eight points for Smith, which was broken by a Wisel three that made it 38-25 Garrett. The lead was no smaller than 11 after that.

With Heritage lacking its top inside players, the Railroaders owned the glass 48-29, with Smith and Dawson both snagging 13 rebounds.

Now it’s another battle with the Lions, Garrett’s blood rival since joining the ACAC. Leo beat Garrett on a last-second shot in the first round of the tournament last year. The Railroaders did the same to the Lions in the tourney final two years ago.

Saturday will mark the fourth time in five years for a Garrett-Leo finale. “These two programs have been here a lot,” Lapadot said. “It will be a great game. They’re a great team. “We know exactly what they’re going to do. It’s not going to take a lot of film study. They also know exactly what we’re going to do.”

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