Garden City, Kan (westernkansasnews.com)-Most coaches will tell you that championships are won in March, not November. But it doesn’t make defeats during turkey month feel any less heartbreaking.
Celia Garcia-Paunero scored 25 points, pulled down 14 rebounds, and freshman Macy Myers drilled a corner three in the waning seconds as Otero overcame a 12-point deficit to stun Garden City 83-81 Tuesday night at the Perryman Athletic Complex.
“We had two girls that were ready to play tonight,” Buster Coach Nick Salazar said afterwards. “The rest didn’t look like college basketball players.”
Harsh words from a coach who watched those same players build an early, double-digit lead, canning 8-out-of-their-first 11 shots from the field. But turnovers and poor shooting the rest of the half had Otero within eight at the break.
“We just let them hang around,” Salazar said. “At points, it looked like we didn’t know what we were doing.”
Things started to turn at the beginning of the second half when Garcia-Paunero knocked down a three to cap a 5-0 spurt and cut the Garden City lead to three. From there the two teams traded haymakers until Ifti Dunne’s driving layup tied the game at 55. After Tionnia McKee gave the Busters the lead back, it was Garica, collecting one of seven offensive rebounds and sticking home Elin Ekdahl’s pointblank miss to even the score. She followed that up with two free throws to give the Rattlers their first lead 59-57 with 7:17 remaining.
That lead swelled to as many as eight with under five minutes to play. But Morris and Taleah Williams carried the girls in gold down the stretch-eventually tying the game at 80-setting up a dramatic finish.
With less than 20 seconds left and the game tied, Garcia was called for her fifth foul-sending (Taleah) Williams to the line. The sophomore split a pair, and the Buster lead was one.
After a timeout, Martinez raced up the right sideline; as she crossed half court, two Garden City defenders converged-leaving Myers unattended in the corner. The freshman settled herself and canned a 3-pointer, putting Otero in the lead 83-81.
“That was a busted defense for sure on that last sequence,” Salazar said.
With seven seconds, the Busters still had a chance. But as Morris drove into the lane, two defenders came crashing in-forcing the sophomore to dish off to Tori Spann, who missed a wide-open baseline jumper as time expired.
“We had the ball in Loysha’s hands, so I didn’t call a timeout figuring she would get to the rim,” Salazar said. “But they came at her, and she had to pass it up.”
Morris finished with 27 points-her fourth-straight 20-point outing. Williams notched her fifth double-double of the season with a season-high 24 points and 12 rebounds.
Myers finished with 13 points for the Rattlers, including the game winner. Martinez had 12 points and Ekdahl 10.
Tip ins: Otero beat Garden City for the sixth time in their last seven meetings…The Rattlers outrebounded the Busters 41-35; it’s only the third time this year that Otero has won the battle on the glass…The loss snapped the Busters four-game winning streak and prevented their first five-game winning streak since 2011…It’s only Garden City’s seventh loss at home in the last three years
Next up: Garden City vs. Bethel College JV-Friday, November 21 12:45 p.m. pregame; 1 p.m. tip ONLINE ONLY at westernkansasnews.com/gccc-sports-streaming