February 25, 2024

Closing in grand style; Busters win thrillers


Final women’s highlights: GCCC vs. Barton

Great Bend, Kan (westernkansasnews.com)-They always say that good things come to those who wait. For Nick Salazar’s Busters, those agonizing defeats against Dodge City and Pratt was enough waiting. 

Zantaya Davis tied her season high with 17 points and Loysha Morris hit the go-ahead basket with 25 seconds remaining in overtime as Garden City got their revenge with a 66-65 win over Barton County Wednesday night at Cougars Field House. 

“We acknowledged that the team that played at Pratt never died completely against Dodge City,” Salazar said. “In fact they rose like a Phoenix. But we’re pretty confident they’re gone now and not coming back.”

They didn’t, and they countered every Barton run in the second half. Down four with under three minutes to play, Barton County tied the game at 55 on “KK” Anthony’s baseline jumper. But Shaqunna Collins didn’t waste anytime putting Garden City back in front after she raced down the floor and drew the foul. The sophomore connected on both free throws to give the Busters a 57-55 advantage with 1:54 remaining. 

Barton County (18-12, 6-8) cut the Garden City lead to one when Taylor Mayes split a pair of free throws. Then Jasmine Christmas left the door open when she missed the front end of a 1-and-1-giving the Cougars a chance to win the game in regulation. 

Barton County Coach Carter Kruger put the ball in Anthony’s hands, and the freshman from Memphis went right to the rim-drawing the foul. Anthony missed the first free throw but hit the second to tie the game. Now it was the Busters turn. 

Salazar decided to play it out and not call a timeout. But unlike at Seward County, the potential game-winner was an errant three by Collins from the left wing. 

In the extra session, the Busters watched the Lady Cougars jump out to a four-point lead on the heels of back-to-back jumpers by Mariana Lambert. The freshman, who killed Garden City in the first meeting with 23 points, finished with 10 in game two in 35 minutes. 

But Salzar’s resilient bunch came right back eventually taking a four-point lead into the final 10 seconds. That’s when things got interesting.

Lady Cougars guard Brandy Winbush, who drilled two, back breaking, first-half 3-pointers, was fouled with .07 seconds to play. She hit the first; then missed the second one on purpose, and the play nearly worked to perfection. Mayes grabbed the rebound off the front rim, but instead of firing it Lambert, who was standing all alone on the wing for a potential game-tying three, the sophomore went right back up with it-laying the ball in off the glass for a meaningless two as the horn sounded. A stunned Coach Kruger stood on the sidelines with his hands over his face-perplexed at what just happened. 

Morris finished with 12 points for the Lady Busters; Collins added 10 before fouling out in the waning seconds of overtime. Anthony led Barton County with 13 points but was just 3-of-7 from the free throw line. 

Next up: 1st Rd Region VI Tournament-Garden City vs. Labette-Saturday, March 1 at 1 p.m. exclusively at www.westernkansasnews.com/gccc-sports-streaming/; pregame at 12:45 p.m. 

Final Stats: GCCC women at Barton


Garden City men 74, Barton County 72

Final Highlights: GCCC vs. Barton

Great Bend, Kan (westernkansasnews.com)-The word around the Jayhawk Conference is that no one wants to face Garden City in the Region VI tournament. There’s a reason for that. 

26 days after a heart-breaking, one-point loss to the Cougars at home, the Busters stifling defense proved to be the difference in a two-point, road victory over Barton County Wednesday night at Cougars Field House.

“Guys showed some resilience tonight,” Head Coach Brady Trenkle said afterwards. “I’m happy for them. This is an extremely tough place to win.”

The numbers backed that up. Barton County (20-10, 8-6) had won 17 out of their previuos 22 conference home games entering Wednesday night. And it proved to be a tough close out. 

Garden City (22-8, 8-6) raced out to a 15-3 lead, thanks in large part to Jeremy Wilson’s eight points in the first five minutes of the game. He finished with 16 points on 7-of-15 from the field. But as Trenkle had seen each of the past two games, that 12-point advantage would slowly shrink and eventually evaporate. 

“We’re not good when we have the lead early,” Trenkle said. “It’s scary; I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it. For some reason, these kids play tight when they have that much of a cushion.”

Tyler Corley kept the Cougars in the game, scoring 13 of his game-high 22 points in the first half. Barton County trailed 38-35 at the break. 

The Cougars began the second half much like Garden City started the first: Red hot. They scored the first four points, and Deriece Parks layup gave Barton County a 39-38 lead; one of 10 lead changes in the game; four in the second half. 

The game would seesaw back in forth until the final five minutes when the Cougars jumped out to a 69-62 advantage. Just when it appeared Garden City was dead in the water, the Busters weathered the storm-rallying back with an 8-1 run to tie the game at 70 with 2:09 to go. Then a little deja vu. 

In the first matchup between these two teams on Feb. 1, Garden City took the lead late on a Jade Cathy tip back only to see Tyler Corley sink the game-winning free throw seconds later. Fast forward three weeks later and the same scenario played out; this time there wasn’t a response by the Cougars. 

With the game tied, Variste found himself in familiar territory-driving the ball to the basket. The freshman point guard missed a layup, but Cathy was there once again to tip it back in-giving the Busters a 72-70 advantage. It was definitely sweet for Variste, who finished only 2-of-8 from the field. Garden City never trailed again.

However, this night belonged to freshman shooting guard Jonathan Bell, who poured in a career-high 17 points on 6-of-7 from the field. He made all four of his free throws and drained a triple; just his second of the season. 

“Jon was on a mission tonight,” Trenkle said. “His mom flew out to watch the Dodge game on Saturday, and I think that woke him up a bit.”

Consider this: Bell once scored 29 points in a game against Findlay Prep; the number one prep school in the country. 

“Findlay could challenge a lot of Division-I schools,” Trenkle said. “It shows how good this kid is.”

Jade Cathy added 10 points and seven rebounds for the Busters. Raheem Johnson notched his ninth double-double the season for the Courgars-finishing with 10 points and 15 rebounds. Darius Gibson, who torched Garden City for 22 points in their first meeting, scored only nine points on 2-of-7 shooting. 

Next up: 1st Rd Region VI Tournament-Garden City at Neosho County-Saturday, March 1 at 2 p.m. on AM 1030 KBUF and westernkansasnews.com; pregame 1:45 p.m. 

Final Stats: GCCC men vs. Barton


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