Buster men end skid; women bounce back as well
Garden City, KS (westernkansasnews.com)-In their first five conference games, Garden City couldn’t catch a break. But in a span of 30 seconds, that all changed Saturday night.
Davon Anderson scored the final six points, including the game-winning three-point play as Garden City overcame a four-point deficit in the last half minute to beat Cloud County 62-60 at the Perryman Athletic Complex.
“We’ve been here before,” Buster Coach Brady Trenkle said after the game. “We just finally got a break to fall our way.”
It was a sight all too familiar to Trenkle and his coaching staff. After watching his team miss a potential game-winner at the buzzer on Wednesday night at Pratt, the second-year coach looked on to see his team trailing 60-56 with less than a minute to play. To add insult to injury, Tidell Pierre’s turnover gave the ball back to Cloud County.
“We have so much to clean up,” Trenkle said. “But my guys fought like crazy tonight.”
On Cloud’s ensuing possession, Chad Eshbaugh instructed his team to take the shot clock all the way down. They did, but Devon Thomas bricked a 3-pointer from 40 feet out. The ball hit the backboard and referee Mitch Bevans signaled a shot-clock violation.
Trailing by four with 25 seconds left and in desperate need of a triple, Trenkle reinserted JT Bennett, who sparked Garden City in the first half. But Thomas wouldn’t allow Bennett to come free. So Jonathan Bell kicked it in the corner to Anderson, who hesitated before slashing to the baseline. On his route to the rim, the sophomore noticed 6-8 freshman Trevor Singleton holding his ground on the block. So Anderson ducked underneath the rim, absorbed a blow and somehow dropped the ball through net.
“Davon played an unbelievable second half,” Trenkle said. “Now if we could only get that for 40 minutes.”
Anderson hit the ensuing free throw to cut the Cloud County (14-5, 1-4) lead to one. With 12 seconds, the Busters fouled Riddell Cammidge.
The freshman strolled to the line shooting nearly 70 percent for the year. But he missed both, and the Busters had a chance to win it.
“Those are the bounces that didn’t go our way the first five games,” Trenkle said. “They did tonight.”
The veteran skipper knew whose hands he wanted the ball in, and his best player delivered. Anderson caught the rock at the top of the key and lowered his head to drive. As he got to the rim, the sophomore hung in the air for what seemed like an eternity before spinning home a gorgeous left-hand layup as he was fouled by Singleton. The free throw was good, and the Busters had a two-point lead.
The Thunderbirds still had a chance with 2.5 seconds remaining. Creighton Brinker sent a rainbow pass to Singleton, who caught it at half court, freed himself and had a great look from the top of the key. But his 18-footer hit the right side of the rim-putting an end to Garden City’s five-game losing streak.
“This is only the first step,” Trenkle said. “Now we have to take another step forward Wednesday at Seward. We can take one forward and two backwards. Wednesday is huge for us.”
Garden City had their chances to pull away; especially after they built their lead to eight just a minute into the second half. But 14 missed free throws allowed Cloud County to hang around, and Thomas’s step-back 3-pointer gave the Thunderbirds a 36-35 advantage. The teams played evenly from there until Eshbaugh’s squad built a four-point lead twice in the final six minutes.
Bennett scored 11 points for the Busters off the bench. Myrek Fowlkes added 10, and Richie Spiller netted seven.
Thomas paced the Thunderbirds with 15 points. Singleton tallied 15 while pulling down a team-best seven rebounds.
Tip ins: Cloud County shot a season-low 39 percent from the field on 21-of-54…Garden City ended their first five-game losing streak since 2012-2013…Garden City won the game despite shooting just 34 percent on 21-of-62…There were nine lead changes and seven ties
Next up: at Seward County-Wednesday, January 21-8 p.m. tip on AM 1030; kbufmobile.com and mobile app: KBUF (tuneinradio app: KBUF)
Women clamp down; stroll to a blowout win
Garden City, KS (westernkansasnews.com)-Nick Salazar has endured a lot of ups and downs during his two seasons as Garden City’s head coach. And Saturday night was no different.
The Busters’ head man was dealt another major blow before game time with Loysha Morris ruled out because of a knee injury. The news could have worked against Garden City, but it didn’t.
Eastern Michigan transfer Bianca Cage stepped up big in Morris’s absence, scoring a career-best 25 points on 10-of-17 from the field as the Busters steamrolled Cloud County 81-62.
“With everything that’s gone wrong, I still believe we’re the second best team in this conference,” Salazar said afterwards. “We just haven’t played like it the last few games. Tonight we did.”
And there was no looking back. Garden City (11-9, 2-4) took the lead for good less than three minutes into the contest, although it was anything but a stroll to the finish line in the first half. The Busters built the advantage to as many as 15 in the first 20 minutes only to see Cloud respond with a 15-4 run to pull with four 38-34. That’s as close as they got.
After watching the Thunderbirds (8-10, 1-4) connect on 7-of-16 from downtown in the first half, the Busters went into lockdown mode in the final period, holding them to a pedestrian 5-of-23.
“We guarded tonight,” Salazar said. “It’s as simple as that. It wasn’t perfect, but it worked.”
As the defense found traction, the offense finally got going, shooting over 50 percent for just the second time this season and ending a streak of six straight games of shooting less than 40.
Tori Span sparked the Busters off the bench with 14 points and six rebounds. Shontera Williams finished with 10.
Katelyn Thomson scored 18 points to lead the Thunderbirds but was just 6-of-19 from the field. Alyssa Steppe chipped in 14; Tai Nittler and Kimi Lindshield each added 11.
Next up: Wednesday, January 21-5:45 p.m pregame; 6 p.m. tip on AM 1030; kbufmobile.com and mobile app: KBUF (tuneinradio app: KBUF)