John Bruce, Staff Writer
CHILLICOTHE – When the lights are the brightest, Adena’s Emma Garrison is at her best.
The sophomore scored 27 points, including 21 in the second half, in the Warriors’ 56-48 win over Unioto on Thursday — a victory that allowed the Warriors (11-2, 8-1 SVC) gain a stranglehold on first place in the Scioto Valley Conference.
“She’s playing at a different level right now,” Adena coach Andrew Day said of Garrison. “She’s picking her spots and it’s not like she’s scoring a lot on a ton of field goal attempts. She’s making her shots and hit two huge 3’s in the third quarter that were key. Then she sealed the game with her free throw shooting. She’s just at a different level.”
Garrison’s night was nearly virtually ended before it even started as she picked up two early fouls in the first three minutes of the game, sending her to the bench for the rest of the opening quarter.
That’s when senior Makaela Lovely stepped forward for the Warriors, pushing Adena to an early lead.
The Shermans (12-4, 7-3 SVC) responded with a pair of dynamic defenders off the bench in Addison Mohan and Karlee Renner. Mohan and Renner each collected a fast break basket, a steal and an assist in the opening quarter, giving the Tanks a late 10-8 lead. But Adena’s Sydney Ater scored a close-range bucket to force a 10-10 tie heading into the second.
Mohan splashed a corner 3 early in the quarter before Day called Garrison’s number to return to the game. The sharpshooter quickly drove down the lane, taking some contact and finishing a tough layup to give the Warriors a lead that they’d never relinquish.
One of the biggest keys for the Warriors was, and has been, their ability to get production from their bench. Cheyanne Ater provided a much-needed boost late in the half, with back-to-back baskets to keep Unioto at arm’s reach.
“Our depth is the reason we are where we are,” Day said. “I don’t have any problem putting nine girls in. If we get in foul trouble, we don’t have to panic. We can still get up and get after teams in the full court, trying to wear them down. That’s because of our depth and the talent we have on our bench.”
The Shermans gained momentum late in the half after Alexis Book stole a pass and connected with Mohan on a layup at the buzzer to cut Adena’s lead to 22-21 at the break.
But Garrison and the Warriors exploded early in the second half, with the sophomore scoring the first eight points of the third quarter for Adena. Meanwhile, classmate Kiera Williams and senior Jadyn Smith put together an impressive defensive display, giving the Warriors some necessary breathing room.
However, Unioto didn’t go away easily.
Avery Miller and Amelia Uhrig started to score inside, while the Tanks’ defensive effort was causing Adena fits. The Warriors coughed up the ball 25 times on the night, including four consecutive trips in the third quarter as the Shermans finished the quarter on a 6-0 run to enter the fourth, trailing 35-33.
The final quarter would be when the Emma Garrison Show officially began.
On consecutive possessions, Garrison hit deep triples — the Warriors’ only two of the night — to give the Warriors a 41-33 lead early in the fourth. Each time the Shermans appeared to get back into the game, Garrison found a way to extend the lead back out.
After Unioto got itself to within one point at 41-40, Garrison scored a runner in the lane, before Caelen Miner knocked down a 15-foot jumper, followed by four quick points from Chey Ater.
Two free throws from Makaela Lovely gave the Warriors their biggest lead at 49-40 with 4:40 to play.
With their backs against the wall, the Shermans gave themselves one last chance to get back into first place in the SVC.
Miller and Uhrig each scored inside, before the biggest sequence of the evening occurred.
Sophomore Amaris Betts hit a deep 3 and Uhrig was fouled inside. Uhrig toed the line with a chance to tie the game, but her free throw attempt rattled out and Adena’s Sydney Foglesong collected one of her 16 rebounds of the night and was fouled. The foul was whistled on Avery Miller, which would be her fifth and final foul of the night with 2:40 to play.
Throughout the rest of the game, Unioto’s inability to finish around the rim, or at the foul line, would ultimately be the team’s downfall.
Over the final two minutes and forty seconds, Unioto missed three shots in the paint that would have tied the game and went 1-for-6 at the charity stripe. That’s while Garrison went 4-for-4 from the line to put the win on ice.
Following Garrison’s monster night was Lovely with 10 points and four rebounds while Ater added eight points. Foglesong finished with three points and a game-high 16 rebounds.
Unioto was led statistically by Uhrig with 13 points and nine rebounds while Miller had 12 points and eight boards.
What’s on tap
With the win, Adena now has a one-game lead over Paint Valley and a two-game lead over Unioto and Huntington with five games left to play in the conference.
The Warriors are back in action on Saturday at Zane Trace while the Shermans attempt to bounce back on Monday, hosting New Hope Christian.