Photos by Adam Shrimplin
Garden City, KS-There was one major question mark surrounding the Garden City boys entering Friday night’s showdown with Great Bend: how would they respond following a 34-point drubbing at the hands of Hugoton on Tuesday.
“We need to play with better effort,” Head Coach Jacy Holloway said before the game.
Three days after their second-worst loss of the season, the effort was definitely there, and so was the execution.
Demarcus Elliott scored a season-high 15 points, Carlos Acosta chipped in 11, and the Buffaloes led for all but 60 seconds in a 51-38 victory over Great Bend at the Garden.
“We were definitely more engaged,” Holloway said. “And we played well in spots, like we have for most of the season.”
The Buffaloes never found any rhythm on Tuesday. But back in their home gym, Garden City (10-7, 4-1) looked sharp early, zipping passes around the perimeter with guys cutting to the basket. The end result: a 10-4 lead after one. And while the offense jumped on the Panthers, the defense smothered the road team, limiting Great Bend (3-13, 1-4) to just 2-of-9 shooting in the opening eight minutes.
“I like the way we started in this game,” Holloway said. “But we still aren’t there yet. There are plays where we made some careless mistakes.”
A 6-0 run in the second, spearheaded by Elliotto’s stick back and Jarrod Springston’s back-to-back layup gave Garden City their largest lead of the half 18-9. And after Dalton Miller cut the Buffaloes advantage to four with a triple from the top of the key, Kyler Lamb answered on the other end, splashing home a 3-pointer that gave the home team a 24-17 lead at the break.
“We were patient again on offense, and that’s always a good thing,” Holloway said. “I’m proud of the way these guys responded.”
The Panthers kept it close early in the third period after Alex Schremmer, the transfer from Hoisington, hit a 3-pointer to make it a four-point game. But the Buffaloes countered with a 13-6 run to bump their lead to 11. They were up by 10 after three and led by as many as 15 in the fourth quarter following Acosta’s three-point play.
“We needed to get our confidence back, and I think we did that,” Holloway said.
Springston added nine points for the Buffaloes, who improved to 5-2 at home and won for the 13th time in the last 15 meetings vs. Great Bend. Crook had seven and Lamb finished with five.
Schremmer paced the Panthers with nine points, but missed 13 of his 16 shot attempts. Ty Esfeld had seven, and Peyton Duvall netted six.
Next up: Garden City vs. Dodge City-Tuesday, Feb. 13-7:30 p.m. tip on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app
Garden City, KS-If you spend five minutes at one of Matt Pfeifer’s practices, you’ll hear him constantly yelling two words: shoot it.
That concept in itself has been an issue all season with the Buffaloes, passing up one open shot after another. But on Friday night they felt free to fire, and the result was just their second win over Great Bend in their last 13 meetings.
Josie Calzonetti scored in double figures for the 16th time this season, finishing with 14 points and six boards, Beth Guymon bounced back from her recent shooting struggles to score 13, and Garden City snapped a six-game losing streak with a 48-38 win over the Panthers at the Garden.
“To be perfectly honest, I didn’t feel like we had the game won until there was like 10 seconds left,” Pfeifer said with a smile afterwards. “I mean look how things have fallen for us the last couple of weeks.”
On Tuesday in Hugoton, the Buffaloes blew an eight-point second-quarter lead. Three days later, there was no such letdown.
With both teams struggling to find their range in the first, Garden City (5-12, 0-5) used an aggressive defense to take command, holding Great Bend (3-13, 1-4) to just five points on 1-of-11 shooting in the first eight minutes. In fact, the Panthers missed their first eight shots from the field.
“I thought our defense has been pretty good the last few games,” Pfeifer said. “They’re doing what they’re supposed to do.”
As ugly as the first eight minutes were offensively, the Buffaloes responded with one of their best eight-minute stretches in 2018. Felicity Rodriguez nailed a 3-pointer; then hit a free throw, Guymon splashed home a long ball, and Calzonetti added a triple and a three-point play that ignited a 15-0 run that put Garden City up 23-9 with 16 seconds left in the half. They took a 13-point lead into the locker room.
“I think the home cooking helped us tonight,” Pfeifer said. “I mean we haven’t been home in almost a month.”
Garden City kept pouring it on in the third. Guymon hit another 3 before knocking in a driving layup that gave the Buffaloes their largest lead of the night, 32-16 with 3:00 to go in the quarter. But Great Bend put a little scare in Pfeifer’s squad by scoring the final nine points of the period, including back-to-back long balls by Alyssa Herter that cut the lead to seven going into the fourth.
“We needed to make stops,” Pfeifer said. “We struggled a little bit when they made their run. We left a couple of their shooters wide open.”
The Panthers narrowed the deficit to six midway through the final stanza only to have Garden City finally put them away. Annie Gerber hit two free throws, (Josie) Calzonetti setup her sister, Julie, beautifully with a bounce pass that led to a 15-foot jumper, Keyhana Turner hit a freebie and Guymon scored on midrange shot to put the Buffaloes back up by 13. It was all part of a 13-6 run to end the game.
“It felt good to finally finish one off,” Pfeifer added.
Rodriguez scored six points for Garden City, who won for the first time since Jan. 16. (Julie) Calzonetti and Gerber each scored five.
Carley Brack scored 11 points before fouling out for Great Bend, which lost their eighth straight game. It’s their longest skid since 2012.
Next up: Garden City vs. Dodge City-Tuesday, Feb. 13-5:45 p.m. pregame; 6 p.m. tip on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr
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