Garden City, KS-Going into Wednesday’s late-season showdown, there were only four teams in the entire country that were allowing more points per game than Pratt.
Apparently numbers do not mean much in the grand scheme of things.
The Beavers played inspired defense down the stretch and used a late 13-0 run to surge past Garden City 92-84 at the Perryman Athletic Complex.
“We are not very good,” Broncbusters Coach Brady Trenkle said. “It’s as simple as that. We don’t know how to win. Our mentality is terrible.”
Garden City (15-11, 11-11) took a three-point lead when Jaymond Kelly buried a 3-pointer with 3:53 to play in the second half. The Broncbusers managed to score just twice thereafter.
“It wasn’t a very good finish,” Trenkle said. “I thought our effort was there, but we can’t finish. I’ve got a newsflash for some of these guys who think they will be playing next year: bigtime programs don’t want losers, and right now, we are losers.”
As the Broncbusters offense eroded, Pratt (8-17, 6-16) seized control, making a beeline right for the free throw line. Nailbiter
Devon Andrews, who finished with a game-high 23 points, sank two freebies to pull the Beavers to within one. Moments later, Kelly had a chance to create a little separation for Garden City, but he missed two free throws. Dawson Gunter answered with two makes on the other end, and Pratt took the lead for good 81-80 with 2:29 remaining.
“It goes back to the last game-we have guys that just can’t hit free throws,” Trenkle said. “But there were so many other things that cost us this game.”
Garden City’s effort to retake control of the game failed when Naradain James missed a straight-on 3-pointer. Pratt responded when Dominique Bell grabbed an offensive rebound off Andrews’ missed trey, allowing the Beavers to bleed another 25 seconds off the clock.
“Last time I checked, we were one of the best rebounding teams in the country,” Trenkle said. “But the last two games, we can’t get a rebound in critical situations.”
Bell’s board was one of only six offensive rebounds on the night for Pratt, but it was the momentum changer that Max Good’s team needed.
With the shot clock winding down, Gunter drilled a 3-pointer, stretching Pratt’s lead to 84-80 with 1:19 to go. The Beavers then salted the game away at the charity stripe as Bell, Gunter, Jaylon Wilson and Andrews combined to hit 8-of-9 free throws over the final 60 seconds.
“Devon Andrews may be the best player in this conference,” Trenkle said.
His numbers on Wednesday proved that. He finished 8-of-14 from the floor, 7-of-9 at the line and grabbed nine rebounds in 22 minutes. Gunter netted 18 for the Beavers, who won for the third time in their last four games. Wilson and Banks each chipped in 13 and A.J. Banks tallied 12.
Ben Howze returned to form, scoring a team-best 19 points for Garden City, who lost their fourth straight game. James and Troy Stancil scored 11 points each.
“We have to figure this thing out,” Trenkle said. “Anybody can beat anybody in this conference. I mean Pratt should have beaten Hutchinson, and they just beat Coffeyville. It shows you how balanced this conference is.”
Garden City’s offensive woes could be traced back to the beginning of the game when Pratt jumped out to a 5-0 lead thanks to four straight misses from the field. The Broncbusters eventually fought their way back into the game and took their first lead when Stancil canned a triple to make it 16-14 with 11:50 to go in the first half. They built that advantage to as many as six before Pratt answered with a 12-2 run to reclaim a four-point edge. The Broncbusters did rally to take a one-point lead into the break.
There were 16 ties and 20 lead changes.
Garden City, KS-Back in December, Kavita Akula lit up Pratt’s gym with a record-breaking barrage from downtown, setting the single-game school mark by hitting nine 3 pointers.
On Wednesday night, there were no such records broken. Pratt stymied the Broncbusters sharpshooter, and in the process delivered a knockout block to Nick Salazar’s team.
Megan Poole scored 22 points and pulled down a game-best 19 rebounds, Jada Catlin added 15, and the Beavers ran by Garden City 75-62 at the Perryman Athletic Complex.
“We just haven’t come out lately with a lot of energy,” Salazar said afterwards. “We couldn’t stop Megan Poole—that’s the reality of it.”
Poole was a one-woman wrecking crew in the first half, scoring 20 points and ripping down 15 board in the first 20 minutes. In fact, she scored eight of the first 11 points for Pratt (8-18, 7-15) to begin the game, as the Beavers opened up a seven-point advantage in the opening quarter.
“She (Poole) was dominant,” Salazar said. “There’s no other way to describe it.”
Despite Poole’s offensive onslaught and a poor shooting frame where they were just 5-of-15 from the floor, Garden City (8-18, 6-16) trailed by just three going into the second thanks to Akula’s rainbow 3-pointer at the end of the first.
“I’ve said it all season long that we have the players on the floor to be competitive,” Salazar said. “Our biggest problem has always been depth and energy. And tonight was another one of those examples.”
The Beavers scored the first six points of the second to open up a nine-point advantage. They followed that up by closing the period just as strong as they had started it, outscoring Garden City 11-3 over the final 2:37. Juliana Alarcon-Diaz nailed a shot at the buzzer, and Pratt had a 42-28 cushion at the intermission.
“We drew a line in the sand after the last game,” Salazar said. “I wanted to know who actually wanted to play basketball. I want people to know that we are working very hard to try and avoid ever having a season like this.”
In the third quarter, Garden City went ice cold. The Broncbusters missed six straight shots and went more than seven minutes without a field goal. And when Tanesha Lewis drained two free throws, the Beavers had a 56-39 advantage with 49 seconds to go in the period.
“We have constantly struggled to shoot the ball all year long,” Salazar said.
Channa Parvin’s triple two minutes into the final stanza, gave Pratt their largest lead of the night 61-43. The Broncbusters got no closer than nine points the rest of the way.
Garden City turned it over 21 times, shot 38 percent from the floor and managed just nine assists on 24 made baskets. DeRae Lewis scored 17 points and had eight rebounds for the Broncbusters, who dropped their third straight game and ninth in their last 10 outings.
Parvin netted 12 points for Pratt, who won a season-best third straight contest.
Next up: Garden City at Coffeyville-Saturday, Feb. 18-5:45 p.m. pregame; 6 p.m. tip on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app
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