Photos by Adam Shrimplin
Garden City, KS-Don’t look now, but the Buffaloes are flying under the radar in 6A. And that’s exactly how Jacy Holloway would prefer it.
Jarrod Springston continued his hot stretch, scoring 17 points, Carlos Acosta had 15, and Garden City improved to 7-1 with a 54-45 win over Liberal Tuesday night at the Garden.
“We’re finding ways to win games,” Holloway said. “We hit free throws for a second straight game, which is really important in a tight game.”
Garden City finished 17-of-22 from the free throw line while shooting a season-high 50 percent on 17-of-34 from the field. They won the rebounding battle 24-16 and held the Redskins to 36 percent shooting.
“I thought defensively, we made a couple of communication errors,” Holloway said. “But I like what we’re doing.”
The Buffaloes were in command early. Carlos Acosta hit a 3 from the wing, Springston hit two free throws, and Mason Shaddix delivered a beautiful dime to Kyler Lamb for an easy layup, putting the Buffaloes up 9-1. They were up 14-8 after one.
“I thought we could have done a better job of putting them away,” Holloway said. “But, we are still figuring things out.”
Case in point-the Buffaloes were up 22-14 after Springston connected on a midrange jumper. But Liberal (5-3, 0-2) came right back, answering with an 11-1 run, capped with Hunter Hatcher’s three-point play that put the Redskins up 25-23. Fortunately, that lead lasted all of 21 seconds. Riley Muniz hit a layup, and Springston converted an offensive rebound into two points, giving the Buffaloes a 27-25 edge at the break.
“I thought we played more consistently in the second half,” Holloway said.
In the third, Springston drilled a 3 from the top of the key to make it a nine-point game before Liberal answered with one final right cross. Braxton Hyde completed a three-point play, Syris Dunlap added a second-chance layup, and Hatcher buried a corner triple to make it a two-point game.
“We did a good job of answering the call tonight,” Holloway said.
After Hatcher hit that 3, the Buffaloes clamped down, holding the Redskins to only six points over the final 5:23. Over that same span, the home squad used a 7-0 run to put the game away, punctuated by Acosta’s sensational and-1 layup that put Garden City (7-1, 2-0) up 48-39 with 1:55 left. They led by as many as 13 in the final minute.
“Now we have a big challenge going into Hays on Friday,” Holloway said. “It’s always tough playing there.”
Lamb finished with 10 points and four rebounds for Garden City, who beat the Redskins for the 12th time in their last 15 meetings. Muniz added six points off the bench.
Brody Sumner notched season highs in points (15) and 3s (three) for Liberal, who dropped their second straight game. Hatcher had 10 and Dunlap chipped in eight. Leading scorer Jordan Mendoza was held to just two points on 1-of-8 shooting.
Next up: Garden City at Hays-Friday, Jan. 11-7:30 p.m. on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app
Garden City, KS-Make a mental note: Liberal may be the best team in 6A; even with defending-champ Derby looming as their biggest threat. Tuesday night, proved just as much.
Machia Mullens scored 17 points, Katie Hornya had 13, and Reagan Watt added 12, as the fifth-ranked Redskins stampeded past Garden City 53-22 at the Garden. It was Liberal’s seventh straight victory over the brown and white.
“That was easily the worst game we’ve played all season,” Buffaloes Head Coach Matt Pfeifer said. “That’s not how we play.”
Liberal (8-0, 2-0) wasted no time in putting this game to bed. They scored the first nine points, led by 14 after one and held the Buffaloes without a field goal for nearly 15 minutes. During that stretch, the Redskins ripped off a 24-1 run, taking a 37-5 lead into the locker room.
“We couldn’t make a shot, and our offense wasn’t good at all,” Pfeifer explained. “I think they were intimidated.”
In the third quarter, Liberal kept pouring it on. And when Mullins hit a twisting layup from the left block, the Redskins had their largest lead, 44-7 with 3:52 to play in the frame. It put the finishing touches on a night where the road team shot a tick under 50 percent from the floor and turned it over only seven times.
“I told the girls right afterwards that this is just one game,” Pfeifer said. “We need to come out on Friday and do what we do.”
Mullens finished 7-of-11 from the field, Hornya was 5-of-10 and Watt was 6-of-9 for the Redskins, who improved to 8-0 for the first time since 2009. They outrebounded Garden City 32-25 and limited the Buffaloes to a season-low 18 percent shooting (7-of-39).
Julie Calzonetti scored eight of her 11 points during a really good third-quarter stretch for Garden City, who misfired on 22 of their first 24 shots. Keyhana Turner chipped in five points and three boards.
Next up: Garden City at Hays-Friday, Jan. 11-5:45 p.m. pregame; 6 p.m. tip on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app