Garden City, KS (westernkansasnews.com)-When Holcomb compiles their postseason resume come March, they will indeed remember a Saturday night game in Garden City in December, where it seemed all the chips were stacked against them. But if the rocking Garden was a craps table in the second half, and Chad Novack was hedging his bet, the fifth-year coach would have taken the casino for everything they had.
Christian Merz scored a game-high 23 points and Trey Sleep added 22 as the top-ranked Longhorns overcame a 38-22 halftime deficit to beat Garden City in overtime 62-57 on the final day of the 2014 SW Classic.
“Our team was resilient,” Novack said after the game. “In that first half, people in the stands were probably thinking: this is the number one team in 4A? But we showed our resolve.”
The lead changed hands four times in the first four minutes before the Buffaloes took command on Caleb Tramp’s three-point play. That bucket sparked a 35-18 run to close the half, and Garden City coasted into the break with a 16-point advantage.
“We played really well in the first half,” Buffaloes Head Coach Jacy Holloway said. “The game just got away from us in the second half. I thought we were tentative.”
The Buffaloes also suffered plenty of mental lapses on the defensive end in the second, none bigger than when Merz connected on a corner three and was fouled by Tramp. The junior, who suffered three stress fractures in his back last year, calmly hit the free throw and cut the Garden City lead to 41-31.
“We fouled two 3-point shooters in the second half,” Holloway said. “That doesn’t happen very often. Then we gave up another three-point play.”
Sleep’s three-point play sliced the Garden City advantage to 43-37 with 1:30 left in the third quarter. That was the precursor to the avalanche that hit in the final period.
“It was the same thing that happened to us on Friday,” Holloway said. “We’ve got to learn how to finish games.”
The Longhorns (3-0) outscored the Buffaloes 15-6 in the final quarter, completely erasing the double-digit deficit when Merz picked Miguel Olivas’s pocket and tied the game at 45 with a layup.
After the Buffaloes built the lead back to four, Holcomb evened things up again with Sleeep’s put back and Calen Rupp’s two free throws.
“We had our chances,” Holloway said.
With less than a minute to go and Holcomb in possession, Koster stole the ball from the usually sure-handed Rupp, sprinted towards the rim and laid it in softly off the glass, giving the Buffaloes a 51-49 lead with 40 seconds to go.
On the ensuing possession, Garden City (3-3) all but had the game sealed when Sleep misfired on a straight-on three. Tramp grabbed the rebound and tried to hand it to Koster on the baseline. But the ball was punched free, eventually finding Sleep, whose twisting layup underneath the basket tied the game at 51 with 13 seconds.
“We were screaming for a timeout when Tramp grabbed that rebound,” Holloway explained. “The officials never heard us.”
The Buffaloes still had a chance to win it in regulation, but Olivas’s runner from the left baseline hit the back rim, sending the game to overtime.
In the extra session, the Longhorns scored the first five points and eventually built a 60-54 edge. Tramp, who scored just eight points over the final four quarters, answered with a desperation triple to cut the Holcomb lead to three with 20 seconds to play.
After nearly stealing the ball on the inbounds, Olivas fouled Conner VanCleave. The sophomore, who had missed only one free throw through the first two games, bricked two in the waning seconds, leaving the door open for the Buffaloes.
Tramp grabbed the rebound and Garden City raced the other way. As the senior got the ball back from Olivas, he used a jab step to create space between him and Dalton Gottschalk. But his step back three from the top of the key hit the left side of the rim. Akil Love tried to save the long rebound from going out of bounds, but threw it right to Merz, who was fouled. The junior obliged by sinking two free throws with 1.8 seconds left putting the game on ice.
“Holcomb did a good job on Caleb,” Holloway said. “But we need to be more aggressive. They were much more aggressive in the second half than we were.”
And it showed on the scoreboard. The Longhorns outscored the Buffaloes 40-19 over the final 20 minutes.
Koster finished with 19 points but was just 3-of-12 from the field. As a team, the Buffaloes shot under 40 percent for the third time in the last four games. They were just 6-off-22 in the second half and have missed 26 out of their last 29 3-point attempts going back to the Trinity game.
Sleep scored 22 points on 7-of-8 shooting. Gottschalk added 11 and pulled down 11 rebounds.
Holcomb hit nine of their 18 shots in the second half and outrebounded the Buffaloes 25-22 for the game. There were five lead changes and three ties.
Tip ins: Holcomb has won three straight over Garden City and evened up the lifetime series at 8-8…It’s the second straight night the Buffaloes blew a fourth-quarter lead…Holcomb was 28-of-46 from the line compared to Garden City’s 21-of-25…The 25 free throw attempts for the Buffaloes were the second highest this season (29 vs. Thomas More Prep)…After hitting 20 3-pointers in their first four games, Garden City has just two in their last two…It’s the first time Garden City has lost back-to-back games at home since 2011 (lost to Andale and Ulysses)
GCHS girls leave no doubt in routing Holcomb
Garden City, KS (westernkansasnews.com)-Last February, Garden City suffered one of the most heartbreaking losses of the David Upton era at Holcomb. Dawning a new look and entering a new calendar year, the Lady Buffaloes were out for some revenge.
Garden City did just that. Led by Jessica Carillo’s 14 points, the Buffaloes steamrolled the shorthanded Longhorns 50-21 at the Garden Saturday night.
“It feels good to have the bragging rights,” Upton said. “We played extremely well tonight.”
Holcomb (3-2) was without Jordan Jarnagin, who missed the game because of a concussion. And the Lady Buffaloes took advantage.
For the second straight game, Garden City stormed out of the gates, scoring the first seven points and holding Holcomb scoreless for the first four minutes. In fact, after Taylor Deniston got the Horns on the board halfway through the first, it would be another nine minutes before they scored again.
“Our defense was incredible tonight,” Upton said. “They guarded all over the floor.”
That defense propelled the Lady Buffs (3-3) to a 21-10 halftime lead. That cushion swelled to as many 32 in the second half.
Abbie Dart scored 12 points and was 8-of-10 from the free throw line. Alexis Elliott chipped in seven and grabbed a game-best nine rebounds.
Deniston paced the Longhorns with 13 points and eight rebounds. She was 5-of-10 from the field while the rest of the team was just 3-of-26.
Garden City won the game despite being outrebounded 26-24. They turned it over 14 times.
Tip ins: This was just the fourth all-time meeting between the two crosstown rivals; Garden City has won three of them…Garden City tied a season best by shooting 48 percent from the field on 15-of-31…The Buffaloes shot 23 more free throws (31) to Holcomb’s (8)