Photos by Adam Shrimplin
Garden City, KS-Garden City seemed a little tense early on against a team that had played them tight in two games during the regular season. But those early nerves were replaced with pure confidence, and Jarrod Springston carried the Buffaloes home.
The senior poured in 19 points and eight rebounds, Azavier Williams added 12 on 4-of-8 shooting, and Garden City advanced to the substate finals with a 48-30 victory over Liberal Wednesday night at the Garden. The Buffaloes move on to play Lawrence on Friday. They won their 17th game of the year, their most in a single season since 1971-72.
“We took care of business,” Head Coach Jacy Holloway said. “I thought our defense played really well.”
Garden City swarmed the Redskins for 32 minutes, holding Liberal to a season-low 23 percent shooting (9-of-39). They missed nine of their first 10 shots, as the Buffaloes built an early 11-2 advantage.
“I do think that we were a little unsure of ourselves in the early part of the game,” Holloway said. “I think we were going a little too fast.”
Down by nine, the Redskins made a push in the second quarter. Israel Avalos ended a six-minute scoring drought by completing a three-point play; he added a second-chance bucket moments later, and Syris Dunlap swished two free throws to pull Liberal within two, 11-9. But Williams provided the answer for Garden City on the other end, slashing to the goal for two before hitting a step-back jumper from the free throw line to stretch the lead to six. After Dunlap hit a triple from the top to slice it back to three, Springston took over, scoring the final eight points of the half by himself: a 3-pointer, a layup and a three-point play to put the Buffaloes up 23-12 at the half.
“Jarrod was really good tonight,” Holloway said. “But he played in the flow of the offense. He took good shots, and they were open shots.”
At one point, Springston scored 12 straight points for Garden City and 15 out of 17 once he drilled a 3-pointer in the first 40 seconds of the final period, giving the home team a 32-20 cushion. Kyler Lamb added two free throws, Williams converted a four-point play, Springston got to the bucket in transition, and Williams knocked down two more freebies to cap off a 10-0 run that gave the Buffaloes a 42-23 lead. They built that to as many as 20 on Carlos Acosta’s layup in the final three minutes, as Garden City beat Liberal for the 14th time in their last 17 meetings.
Lamb scored nine points and pulled down four rebounds for Garden City, who advanced to the substate finals for the third straight year.
Avalos notched his second double-figure scoring game of the season with 10 points and six boards for Liberal, who was bounced in the opening round for the fifth time in the last six years. Dunlap scored 10, but was just 2-of-8 from the floor.
Next up: Garden City at Lawrence-Friday, March 1-6:45 p.m. pregame; 7 p.m. tip on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app
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