BLUFFTON – Sometimes father does know best.
Prior to facing Crestview, Bluffton’s Laykin Garmatter told her dad and Pirate head coach Eric Garmatter that she really wasn’t hitting anything during warm-ups. Like any good dad and coach, he told her to keep shooting in the game and see what happens.
“She couldn’t hit anything in warm-ups and I told her `hey sometimes you don’t hit nothing in warm ups they fall in the game,” Eric Garmatter said. “If you are open you have to shoot it and they know if they are open they have the green light to shoot the ball.”
Laykin Garmatter responded with a 21-point performance, including 12 in the fourth quarter to help the Pirates hold off Crestview 55-49 in a Northwest Conference clash Thursday.
With the win Bluffton improves to 7-1 overall and remains unbeaten in the NWC at 3-0. Crestview falls to 3-5 for the season and 1-2 in conference play.
“Their record doesn’t show who they are,” Eric Garmatter said. “They knocked off a very good Spencerville team and we weren’t going to take them lightly. They have a good quality team and they are going to win some games.”
Down 38-36 with six minutes left in the game, Laykin Garmatter went on to score the next seven unanswered points to not only reclaim the lead for the Pirates but give them a little breathing room against a determined Knights’ squad.
Crestview continued to come at Bluffton down the stretch and got the score back to within three, 45-42, with 2:33 left in the game, but an inside bucket by Libby Schaadt, who finished with five points and 13 rebounds, and Laykin Garmatter’s fifth 3-pointer of the game, opened the lead back to eight points with a little less than two minutes in the game and the Knights failed up to make the difference in the final minutes of the game.
Precision perimeter shooting and a pressure defense allowed the Pirates to open up an early lead and was instrumental in assisting with the win.
In addition to Laykin Garmatter’s two treys in the first quarter, Kylie Monday, who had 14 points, hit some key 3-pointers in the second and third quarter..
Bluffton owned a 13-6 lead after the first quarter, but the Knights stormed back in the second quarter after going on a 10-2 run take the lead 17-15 with 2:32 left in the first half. However, back-to-back treys by Monday to close out the final two minutes helped the Pirates regain a 21-17 advantage going into the second half.
Bluffton threatened to make it a runaway at the beginning of the third quarter when the Pirates’ defense forced several turnovers and Bluffton went on a 10-1 run to gain a 33-20 advantage with 3:43 left in the stanza.
As was the case throughout the game, the Knights responded with a 10-2 point run to slice the lead and spearhead the comeback going into the final eight minutes with the Pirates leading 35-30 advantage.
Credit Crestview’s Lexi Gregory for keeping the Knights in the game and she had plenty of help from her teammates’ playing rock solid defense and making the necessary adjustments against Bluffton’s defense.
“We kind of wanted to mix it up a little bit and pressure them and they are a hard match up, because we have two post players and they basically have five guards out there and they caught in some mismatches” Eric Garmatter said. “Lexi can play inside and she can play outside and she was a tough one to guard.”
Gregory finished with a game-high 22 points. Teammate Kyle Etzler, who scored 12 points on the night, made some huge treys in the fourth quarter to give the Knights a chance at the win.
Garmatter said he was proud of his team’s composure down the stretch.
“I keep learning about this team and they are a fun group,” he said. “I just told them they did a lot of good things but also things we need to work on and things they can do better. It is a tribute to these girls.”