November 27, 2022

Buffs; Tigers square off in the Garden

Garden City (8-5, 2-2)  vs. Ulysses (6-7, 2-3)-Tuesday, January 28-pregame 6:45 p.m.; tipoff 7 p.m.

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Garden City, Kan (westernkansasnews.com)-Some of the best things in life come in small packages. Garden City boys basketball Coach Jacy Holloway can certainly relate. 

Some expected Garden City to reach at least the semifinals of the January Jam last week in Valley Center. But the Buffs were dealt a wildcard; a one-point loss to the host Hornets in the opening round. What transpired over the next 48 hours might have saved the Buffs season. 

You could make the case that the last eight quarters have been the best basketball Garden City has played all season long; that includes their upset win over then No. 4 Pueblo East back on December 14. 

“We’re starting to figure things out,” Holloway said. “Our offense is coming around.”

The main reason for that: A switch in philosophy. Holloway replaced his original starting five with a handful of reserves. But after the offense struggled to get going after the Christmas break, the fourth-year head coach made another change; reinserting Caleb Tramp and Hunter Delgado into the lineup-joining Jared Koster, Mitchell Hernandez and Luis Rodriguez. So far the switch is paying dividends. 

“It gives us more scoring,” Holloway said. “Our defense is pretty good, but obviously we weren’t putting the ball in the basket.”

With his new lineup on the floor, the Buffs are averaging 52 points per game and are shooting 53 percent from the floor over their last three. Their record: 2-1. 

On Tuesday night, the Buffs welcome in Ulysses-a team Garden City has owned in recent years. In fact, the Buffs have won six of the last eight meetings. And it looks like they’re catching the Tigers at the perfect time. 

Nathan Novack’s team has dropped four out of their last five games, including a seventh place finish at the Interstate Tournament in Coffeyville last week. 

But make no mistake about it, the Tigers’ roster is littered with athletes; guys that have excelled in other sports-especially on the football field. 

Tregg Rodriguez, who may be a lock to start at quarterback for Jason Kenny on the gridiron next season, is making his presence felt on the hardwood. The junior is averaging nearly 14 points and five rebounds per game and fueled the Tigers to a 3-1 start following a 20-point loss to Cimarron on opening night. But since then Ulysses is just 3-6. 

“We’re starting to turn the corner on fundamentals,” said Novack, who’s now in his second year leading the program. “This is definitely a transition year.”

Well whatever the records say-if history has anything to do with Tuesday night, the Tigers and Buffs should be in for a close one. Four of the last five meetings have been decided by five points or less.

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