Garrett, a team with just one senior as a major contributor, did that on Tuesday in a 60-45 victory over Woodlan in the opening round of the Class 3A Bishop Dwenger Sectional.
“It is always big (to score early) because you know you are going to have nerves and everything going into the tournament,” Garrett coach Bob Lapadot said. “We were able to execute our (opening tip play) and get a layup and just started rolling.”
Woodlan (12-8) struggled to match the Railroaders' intensity early and never seemed to completely get on track on either end of the court. When the Warriors would make a run and attempt to get close, Garrett would go to its set offense and get a big basket.
“I have been here 18 years and we never ran set plays and sets like we did tonight,” Lapadot said. “When it got close, we went strictly sets and scored nearly every time or got to the free throw line.”
Woodlan did not seem to have an answer for Taylor Smith, the freshman center who is one of the top volleyball players in her age group in the country. The 6-footer went for 13 points and 17 rebounds on the night.
“We were talking about it on the bench before the game,” Lapadot said. “She has played all over the United States, in the biggest volleyball tournaments around. That has to help. I know it is a different sport, but when you have experience in big-game situations, it helps you settle down.”
Kaitlin Wisel had a game-high 20 points to lead the Railroaders, with Brandi Dawson adding 18 points and 14 rebounds.
“Wisel runs the show (at point guard) as good as we've had,” Lapadot said. “She can get shots, she can make the pass … she was dead tired but that is going to happen. I told her she just had to keep going.”
Garrett lost to Woodlan earlier in the season by 25 points, making Tuesday a 40-point turnaround from when the teams met in late-November.
The Railroaders have come a long way since then.
“Our focus, our attention to detail and I didn't do a very good job the first time getting us ready,” said Lapadot on what was different from the first meeting. “We knew what (Woodlan) was going to do, there were no surprises all night.”
Garrett utilized a triangle-and-two defense to stymie Woodlan's attempts to penetrate to the hoop and kick the ball to the outside for open shots. The Warriors were just 2-of-9 from 3-point range.
Garrett (16-6) advances to take on Angola on Friday at 7:30 p.m. The Hornets won the first meeting 47-46 on a 3-pointer in the closing seconds in mid-November.Woodlan 8 4 15 18-45
Garrett 17 8 16 19-60
Woodlan: Ehle 14, Malfait 8, Hostetler 14, Gerbers 3, Williams 2, Bontrager 4.
Garrett: Smith 13, DePew 4, Stafford 2, Oliver 3, Dawson 18, Wisel 20,