By Maff Lofgren | Correspondent
The seniors at Garfield High School celebrated one more win on their home court Friday with a 64-47 Portage Trail Conference County Division victory over Rootstown.
Garfield head coach Andy Olesky celebrated with his team, especially his seniors, with a quality win over a well-coached Rootstown squad.
"Real good win, I'm real proud of them tonight," Olesky said. "Did some good things offensively then did some good things defensively. Still made some mistakes but did better with some things, but good overall win for us. We'll take any win we can get."
The G-Men were led all game by senior Matt Pratt, who played like a man on a mission. Pratt finished the game with 25 points, but did almost all of his damage at the charity stripe by sinking 17-of-18 free throws.
"I'd really like to give credit to Matt Pratt," Olesky said. "He got out in the open court and made some layups and he stepped up and made a boatload of free throws tonight. He really stepped up on Senior Night."
Attacking the basket from tipoff, Pratt said he found himself in a shooting slump of late and needed to do whatever possible to snap out of it.
"I realized that I haven't been shooting the ball well lately, and by taking it to the basket it creates fouls, which creates free points," Pratt said. "But it feels amazing (to win on Senior Night). It's the only one time in my life I get to do this."
Working most efficiently in the transition game, the G-Men grabbed a quick 8-0 to start the game off a pair of turnovers by the Rovers -- setting the theme early on that Garfield would make Rootstown pay for their mistakes.
In all, Garfield accounted for 24 points off of 19 Rootstown turnovers. Olesky said that he prefers to see his team transition when they can against an opponent.
"We are much better in the offensive transition. We try to do that but sometimes teams shut us down and do a good job of it," Olesky said. "But we did a much better job in it tonight."
But despite holding a big edge for most of the game on the scoreboard, Garfield struggled to collect rebounds early on and gave the Rovers a shot to climb back into the game.
"Rebounding hasn't been one of our strengths lately and we didn't do a good job of it in the first half," Olesky said. "I really got on them at halftime about their weak-side defense, and that includes rebounding, but we cleaned it up a little bit there in the second half."
While collecting 31 rebounds to Garfield's 27, the Rovers found good success beyond the 3-point arc. Sinking eight 3s in the game, the Rovers worked hard to work the ball inside and out, but the size of the G-Men was just too much for them.