GARRETT – For the first four and a half minutes of Central Noble's visit to Garrett on Friday night, the Cougars literally couldn't miss a shot.
But after Garrett finally caught up late in the third quarter, the Cougars scored only five more points while the Railroaders barreled to a 49-40 win.
Garrett (14-1) ended the game on a 20-5 run and remain the only NECC team with an undefeated league record (now 7-0) heading into next week's conference tournament.
“The thing that means the most is that it puts us in real good shape for the conference,” Railroaders coach Bob Lapadot said. “We keep building the cushion. Hopefully we don't need it, but we'll take what we can get.”
Garrett junior Morgan Ostrowski scored on the opening possession, but Central Noble senior Casey Hunter immediately tied the game, and the Railroaders would not see the lead again until the third quarter. The Cougars (10-3, 3-3 NECC) went 4 for 4 from 3-point land in the first quarter and led 18-11 after eight minutes.
In the second quarter, back-to-back scores by Ostrowski, including a 3-pointer, cut Central Noble's lead to 23-22, but Madison Vice, Casey Hunter and Meghan Kiebel each scored for the Cougars to give them a bit of breathing room. The Cougars held the ball with about 30 seconds left in the first half and drew up a play to score as the clock wound down, but gave away the ball. The Railroaders got the ball down the court, and Nataley Armstrong passed the ball in to Ostrowski, who was open under the rim and scored as the buzzer sounded to cut Central Noble's lead to 29-24.
Garrett junior Taylor Gerke opened the second half with a 3-pointer, but Central Noble senior Lydia Andrews answered with one of her own.
Toward the end of the third quarter, the Railroaders strung together multiple stops. A bucket by Garrett sophomore Bailey Kelham brought the Railroaders within a point and with about a minute left in the third quarter Armstrong drove into the lane, sent a bounce pass to Ostrowski through traffic and she scored on a layup to give Garrett at 36-35 lead.
Junior Faith Owen hit a 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter, the only shot from the floor the Railroaders hit in the final period, but it was all they would need as they went 10 for 11 from the free throw line down the stretch.
The Cougars, who started the game so hot, shot 2 for 10 in the final quarter, with the final basket coming with 10 seconds to go. Central Noble was held to 11 points in the second half.
“That was one of the most important things about the game, after they hit everything in the first quarter, we really stepped up our defense and made them get out of their offense, which allowed us to get into our offense,” Ostrowski said.
Ostrowski led Garrett with 17 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks. Gerke scored 11 points and had four rebounds and two steals, Kelham scored 10 points and Owen nine. Vice led the Cougars with 12 points and Kiebel scored nine.