MARPLE >> Nyah Garrison was under the weather for most of the week leading up to Bonner & Prendergast’s opener in the PIAA Class 4A tournament.
That wouldn’t stop the senior forward from making the starting lineup Saturday. When the Pandas needed a boost, Garrison gave every remaining ounce of energy to help her team to victory.
Garrison netted all nine of her points in the second half as Bonner & Prendergast advanced to the second round of the Class 4A playoffs with a 41-37 win over Northern Lebanon in a game played at Cardinal O’Hara.
The Pandas (14-10) play District 11 champion Bethelhem Catholic (25-3) at a neutral site in a second-round game Wednesday.
Garrison was quiet in the first half after picking up three fouls. Once she rehydrated, she made a big impact after halftime. She scored four straight points to begin the third quarter, then played lockdown defense and forced a Northern Lebanon turnover with eight seconds to go in regulation. On B&P’s ensuing possession, Garrison was immediately fouled then hit a free-throw to seal the victory.
It wasn’t quite Michael Jordan in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals, but Garrison’s performance certainly was gutsy and a testament to her work ethic, drive and commitment.
“I just wanted to help us be successful,” Garrison said. “We had to believe in ourselves and also we had to slow things down. We were able to run our offense the way we’re supposed to run it and got good looks at times.”
Garrison redeemed herself in the final minute by forcing Northern Lebanon guard Zara Zerman to lose control of the ball and hand it back to the Pandas. Moments earlier on an inbound play, Garrison’s pass was stolen.
“I had to get her back, “ Garrison said. “I didn’t want it to be my fault that we lost. I know (Zerman) shot the 3, so I wanted to play really good defense on her. Even if I couldn’t intercept it, I knew the ball was going out of bounds. I’m glad that it worked out in our favor.”
Sophomores Alexis Gleason and Dakota McCaughan paced the Pandas (15-10) on the scoreboard with 10 points apiece. Junior forward Ariana McGeary came off the bench and scored four points, grabbed five rebounds and came away with three steals. Gleason and McGeary used their size in the low post to their advantage against a North Lebanon team that relied heavily on perimeter shooting.
“I try to give 110 percent no matter what anyone else is doing,” said McGeary, who made a nifty pass to Garrison cutting to the basket for an easy layup in the fourth quarter. “I would like to start, but I knew that I have to keep proving myself to the coaches. When we run some of the plays we tend to have guards on us, so that gives us advantage in the post. We know that together we can be pretty good.”
Gleason asserted herself in the opening quarter when she scored six points. She also finished with a game-high six rebounds for the Pandas.
“We came out and knew what we were getting into and I thought we played well as a team,” Gleason said. “We like to dish it back outside, but I know if I get the ball and if I have (her defender) beat, 100 percent of the times I’m going. I just try to work as hard as I can.”
Senior guard Liz Voight (16 points, four assists) and sophomore guard Zerman (13 points, five rebounds, four steals) did most of the damage for North Lebanon. The Vikings, however, committed 19 turnovers, including 11 in the second half and shot 6-for-20 from 3-point distance.
“A win’s a win,” Prendie coach Tom Stewart said. “We didn’t do what we needed to do defensively, and we gave them a lot of open shots in the first half. By the second half, we took most of those away. The girls battled. We held on and got the win and that’s what matters.”
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