Ironton faces disciplined Garaway

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 3, 2006

Better bring the No-Doze.

If the Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers are going to fall asleep, it better be on the bus ride to or from Saturday’s Divison III regional championship against the Sugarcreek Garaway Lady Pirates.

The Lady Pirates (23-2), ranked fifth in the final Associated Press poll, combine discipline and a deliberate offensive style to lull defenses to sleep and then — bang! — hit them with a layup or 3-pointer.

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“Their coach (Scott Bardall) used to be the boys coach and he had great success with this style. Now he’s doing it with the girls and he’s having the same kind of success,” Ironton coach Amy Hughes said.

Ironton, ranked third in the final poll, has used its defense to produce an identical 23-2 record. But Garaway may be the most difficult test for the defense.

“Their style breaks down your intensity and controls the tempo,” Hughes said. “We can’t have a letdown and we can’t let them control the tempo.”

Garaway is led by the coach’s daughter, 5-foot-10 senior forward Laura Bardall who not only leads the team with a 13.5 scoring average but in rebounding, assists and steals. She was first team all-district.

Carol Stingel, a 5-11 senior center, was named to the district third team as she averaged 9.0 points a game.

“Bardall is their best player. She can hurt you in a lot of ways,” Hughes said. “Stingel is their go-to guy inside. She’s hard to handle.

The guards are sisters Molly Hershberger, a 5-6 senior, and Erica Hershberger, a 5-7 sophomore. Molly averages 7.3 points and Erica 6.0 per game. Bree Zehnder, a 5-9 senior, is the fifth starter (5.9 ppg) with Tessa Swartzentruber, a 5-7 senior, the top player off the bench.

All four were honorable mention on the all-district team.

“They don’t have big scoring averages, but they that’s because of their deliberate style of play,” Hughes said. “If you leave them alone, they can shoot the ball really well.”

Garaway reached the finals with a 56-40 win over Columbus Bishop Ready. Stingel had 15 points and nine rebounds in the win.

Ironton escaped its regional semifinal win a 33-32 win over Oak Hill on a running jumper by Mandi Boykin as time expired.

This will mark the first meeting between the two schools.

Saturday’s winner will advance to the state tournament at 6 p.m. on Thursday against the winner of Youngstown Ursuline and Garfield Heights Trinity.