Garden City, KS (westernkansasnews.com)-In nine seasons on the Buffalo bench, Garden City Coach David Upton has seen plenty of ups and downs.
But this recent three game stretch that’s seen his team become a turnover machine didn’t sit well with the veteran skipper.
“We have to take care of the ball,” Upton said following his team’s first loss to Hays since 2012. “It’s something we work on all the time. It’s just not transitioning to the games.”
On Tuesday night, the turnovers were there again, but they were masked by a Ulysses team that frankly was overmatched from the start.
Aerianna Stinemetz scored all of her season-high nine points in the fourth quarter, Gabriella Calvillo chipped in eight points and four boards, and the Buffalos snapped a three-game losing streak with a 46-24 victory at the Garden.
“I like what we did in the second half against their zone,” Upton explained afterwards. “It was refreshing to see the girls operate like that.”
The Buffaloes 22-point win was no work of art, but in a substate defined by mediocrity, Upton’s team needed a victory any way they could get one.
“A win is a win,” Upton said. “It wasn’t perfect, but it’s nice to have a break following a win.”
Garden City (5-6, 0-3) exploded out of the gates, much like they did on Friday night vs. Hays. Joslyn Munoz canned two triples, Abbie Dart hit a tough jumper and converted a steal into a layup and the Buffaloes had a 10-0 lead two minutes into the game.
Ulysses (1-10, 0-6) Coach Tim Hoffeber finally was forced to call timeout following his team’s fourth turnover in the first 120 seconds.
“Our defense has always been there,” Upton said. “It’s been our offense that’s been inconsistent. But we still needed to work on our rotations and press. I thought we did a good job of that in this game.”
The Buffaloes forced 22 turnovers-it’s the seventh time they’ve done that this season. They also held a poor-shooting Ulysses team to 32 percent from the field.
“We defended really well,” Upton said. “And I thought our offense came to life in the second half. It’s difficult for even college kids to play against a zone.”
Garden City’s problems against the zone were apparent in the third quarter, when they missed nine out of their 10 shots and turned the ball over four times. But they rebounded in the final period by outscoring the Tigers 20-6 and opening up a 24-point lead.
Abbie Dart finished with seven points, but scored only four over the final 30 minutes of the game. She missed her final five shots. Joslyn Munoz and Josie Calzonetti each tallied six.
Gina Ballesteros scored 10 points for the Tigers, who lost their fourth straight game.
Tip ins: At 1-10, Ulysses is one-loss shy of trying the worst start since 2012-2013 when they began 1-11…Garden City beat Ulysses for the ninth straight time…David Upton improved to 9-0 vs. Ulysses
Next up: Garden City at the Newton Tournament-Thursday, January 28-Saturday, January 30; times and teams to be announced on 99.9 ESPN Radio; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr; mobile app: KWKR and tuneinradio app: KWKR