Photos by Adam Shrimplin
Garden City, KS-Buffalo coach Jacy Holloway knew that Great Bend’s plan was to muck up the game and slow things down.
And, as most teams still haven’t figured out, Garden City is just fine playing at that pace.
Kyler Lamb recorded his second double-double of the season with 12 points and 12 rebounds, Azavier Williams and Jarrod Springston each chipped in 12, and Garden City won their fourth straight game with a 43-34 victory over the Panthers Friday night at the Garden.
“Kyler plays really hard,” Holloway said afterwards. “Sometime the shots are a little easier, and that’s how it is for him right now.”
Lamb followed up Tuesday’s 10-of-11 shooting performance with a perfect 4-of-4 night Friday, getting the brown and white off and running early.
Trailing 6-2 halfway through the first quarter, the senior caught the ball in the right corner, and, with no hesitation, let go a majestic beauty, which hit nothing but net. On the Buffaloes next trip down, Lamb, all in one motion, grabbed Carlos Acosta’s missed layup, and softly laid it home without even touching the glass. It was all part of a 10-0 run that completely flipped the game and had Garden City up 12-7 after one.
“Great Bend is a team that plays so hard; we knew that coming in,” Holloway said.
Lamb’s torrid start continued into the second quarter when he connected on a layup, completing a stretch where he outscored Great Bend 7-1 by himself. It was all part of a 14-1 blitz that Springston capped off with a midrange jumper that had the Buffaloes on top 16-7. A few minutes later, Acosta split a pair of free throws before Garden City answered Alex Schremmer’s 35-foot trey with four straight points, which included Williams’ sensational Euro step, where he glided past two defenders for a left-handed layup that put the Buffaloes up 23-13 at the break.
“Playing against Great Bend prepares us to play this type of game,” Holloway explained. “You don’t see a lot of zone in sub state and if we are fortunate enough to get to the state tournament, but if we see it, we will be ready for it.”
Schremmer gave the Panthers some hope early in the third when his deep 3 cut the Garden City lead to seven. But that’s as close as Great Bend would get the rest of the way as the Buffaloes closed the period on a 10-4 run before opening up a their largest lead in the final quarter when Springston knocked down an elbow jumper to make it 35-20.
“We’ve seen so many defenses this year,” Holloway said. “We should have a good idea of what teams will throw at us. Dodge City pressured us last time and then backed off. We have to be prepared for everything.”
After shooting a season-high 67 percent vs. Hugoton, the Buffaloes came back down to earth a bit, finishing the night 15-of-34 (44 percent) and 3-of-7 from 3.
Schremmer scored 14 points to pace the Panthers, who lost their third straight game. Trent Steuder added six points and eight rebounds.
Next up: Garden City at Dodge City-Tuesday, Feb. 12-7:30 p.m. tip on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app
Garden City, KS-Matt Pfeifer is still a very young coach. But sometimes this season, his team, in his own words, has made him age more than he’d like. The good news though: Garden City accomplished a feat Friday night that was four years in the making.
Nateara Beasley scored a season-high 18 points, Elyssa Salazar chipped in 16, and Garden City held off a late push to beat Great Bend 57-53 at the Garden. It was the first time they’ve reached 10 wins in a season since 2015.
“We definitely didn’t make things easy on ourselves,” Pfeifer admitted afterwards. “But we got the win.”
The biggest silver lining in this one was Beasley, who had missed all 23 of her 3-point attempts entering Friday night’s tilt. But after missing her first, the junior drilled two in the first five minutes of the contest. She finished the night 4-of-6 from downtown and 7-of-12 from the field.
“She’s (Beasley) got a good looking shot,” Pfeifer said. “It’s just about confidence. Tonight, she shot it with confidence.”
Beasley’s second triple put Garden City up 14-8. She added a layup to end the quarter, as the Buffaloes closed the period by scoring the final five points to take an eight-point edge into the second.
“We were flowing early,” Pfeifer said. “And we really haven’ that game where we have run away with it. We had a chance to do that tonight.”
In the second, Salazar and Taryn Tabor nailed 3’s, Beasley and Melanie Flores converted difficult three-point plays, and Garden City was up 17, 31-14 with 2:00 to go in the first half. They led 33-18 at the break.
But after showing no signs of life in the first half, Great Bend roared back in the fourth quarter.
Sydney Unruh spearheaded a 7-0 run to cut it to seven. Once Garden City stretched it back to 12, it was Unruh again, canning a trey from the corner to slice it to nine. The sophomore led another 7-0 blitz where she hit a contested layup to pull the Panthers to within five, 52-47 with 1:37 remaining.
“You can’t barely beat a team that has one win,” Pfeifer said. “That’s unacceptable.”
Unruh hit a midrange jumper, and Jenna Mauler added driving layup, completing a 12-1 spurt that had Great Bend within one, 53-52 with 35 seconds to go.
Garden City left the door ajar, thanks to some more fourth-quarter free throw struggles. They were just 5-of-12 from the stripe over the final eight minutes, giving the Panthers a chance to tie with 17 seconds. Fortunately, Great Bend turned the ball over, and Keyhana Turner made it a two-possession game with a free throw in the final five seconds, giving the Buffaloes a season sweep of Great Bend for the first time since 2013.
“We have to get better closing games at the line,” Pfeifer said.
Garden City shot 42 percent and hit a season-high eight 3’s. But they were just 13-of-28 at the line.
Mauler scored 18 for the Panthers, who dropped their 13th straight game. Unruh added 16 and Candice Smith recorded her first double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds.
Next up: Garden City at Dodge City-Tuesday, Feb. 12-5:45 p.m. pregame; 6 p.m. tip on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app