Valley Center, Kan (westernkansasnews.com)-All things that begin well, don’t always end well. Just ask Garden City coach Jacy Holloway.
Jacob Brittain scored a game-high 16 points, and Valley Center overcame an early 11-point deficit to knock off the heavily favored Buffaloes 46-45 in the first round of the 2014 January Jam at Hornets Field House.
“In the second half they hit some shots,” Holloway said after the game. “They did a good job.”
But it was the end of the first half that might have turned the tide. Down 29-18 with two 1:30 to play before intermission, Brittain used an impressive spin move to blow by Nalen Rincones and lay it in-sparking a 10-2 run to close out the quarter.
The two teams played to stalemate in the third, but Garden City’s shooting woes reared its ugly head in the final frame.
Leading 41-38 entering the fourth period, the Buffs would go the first six minutes of the quarter without a field goal allowing Valley Center (4-5) to hang around and eventually tie the game on a Jacob Trittain 3-pointer from the left corner. It was the sixth trey of the night for the Hornets, tying a season high.
Moments later, Garden City turned it over, and Blake Crager split a pair of free throws to give Valley Center a 44-43 lead with just over three minutes to play. That’s when Caleb Tramp connected on Garden City’s only field goal of the frame, an and-one layup that put the Buffs in front. But the junior missed the ensuing free throw and the Buffs led 45-44. They would not score again.
Trailing by one with under 30 seconds remaining, the Buffs would have banked on Brittain getting the ball one last time. But the senior deferred, instead finding Braden Janzen down on the block. The senior used a drop step to get around Luis Rodriguez and laid it in softly with the left hand-giving the Hornets a 46-45 lead.
With six seconds to play following a timeout, the Buffs had one last chance to win it. But Tristan Nanniga was called for a charging foul giving the ball back to Valley center with 3.1 seconds left.
Needing to foul-Garden City never got their chance, as Jason Barbour got away from Mitchell Hernandez-completing the upset.
“They just had too many open looks on us,” Holloway said. “We let them get free.”
Nanninga scored 13 points to lead Garden City; Tramp chipped in 12. Barbour led the Hornets with eight, while Nathan Brown and Janzen added six apiece.
Next up: Garden City vs. Kansas City Turner-Friday, January 24-5 p.m. tip on KWKR 99.9 FM and westernkansasnews.com
Final Stats: GCHS vs. Valley Center