GARRETT - Prior to Garrett’s IHSAA Class 3A Girl's Basketball Sectional championship game against Concordia Lutheran, Railroaders coach Bob Lapadot wrote a single name on the board in the locker room.
"DeJour Young," Concordia’s star junior forward.
He knew he needed his own standout, Brandi Dawson, to lock down Young defensively if Garrett were to win its first sectional title since 2011.
“I said ‘There’s the key and you got her,’” Lapadot said after the win. “‘Now are we going to win or lose?’”
Dawson scored 16 points – 13 in the second half – to lead Garrett to a 49-39 victory on the Railroaders' home floor. She also took care of defending Young by limiting her to eight points.
“He talked to me about (Young) and was really hard about it.” Dawson said. “I knew that I had to play as hard as I could and do everything I can. And I did.”
Heading into the sectional round, No. 3 Garrett (23-0) heard the criticism that it played a weak schedule and more experienced teams could get to them. The team ignored that criticism and quieted the critics after stopping a Cadets offense that was averaging 54 points a game.
No. 5 Concordia (19-4) had its only lead come after the opening basket by Young. Garrett sophomore Rachel DePew responded with a 3-pointer to take a 3-2 lead.
The Railroaders never lead by more than five points through three quarters, but the Cadets couldn’t get the run it needed to take a lead and the game. Concordia’s offense never got into a rhythm, which started with the struggling Young and senior forward Courtney Smith.
Smith scored nine points in the game, but seven points from the foul line.
“They pack in their defense and did a nice job,” Cadet coach David Miller explained. “And we didn’t make shots. We had opportunities and nothing went in.”
Garrett pulled away midway through the fourth quarter as it was able to convert its foul shots. The combination of Dawson, guard Emily Somers, and guard Kaitlin Wisel drained 16 of 20 foul shots in the final quarter to build a late double-digit lead to ice the game.
“To hold them to 39 points, with the athletes they have, and the fact they’ve been there,” Lapadot said. “I told them with about four minutes to go, ‘Here’s where you’re going to prove your naysayers right or wrong.'”
Wisel scored 15 points in the game, while Somers added seven.
The sectional championship is Garrett’s first since 2011 and first in class 3A. More importantly, the win keeps Garrett’s unbeaten season alive for at least another week.
“This is a very special team, and what it means the most to me is I get to spend another week with them,” Lapadot said. “The trophies are great and the banners will be there forever, but this journey were on at the most only has three more weeks and we want to make the most of it.”