Squandering a chance; Buster men blow big lead in loss to Barton

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Great Bend, KS (westernkansasnews.com)-For 18 minutes Wednesday night, Garden City showed those in attendance how dangerous they can be in the Jayhawk West. But as any coach in America will tell you, if you don’t sustain it for 40 minutes, you have no shot.

Ahmad Walker scored 19 of his game-high 25 points in the second half as Barton County erased an 18-point deficit to beat the Busters 81-69 at the Kirkman Center.

“We have flat out forgotten how to win,” Garden City Head Coach Brady Trenkle said afterwards. “I don’t know what’s happened. It’s not for a lack of effort from my guys. We just have to find it, and right now I don’t know where it is.”

For most of the first half, it seemed as if Trenkle’s team had figured it out; using a balanced effort that fueled a 9-0 run and a 39-21 advantage. But somewhere in the final 2:34, Garden City (11-6, 0-3) dropped the ball; literally and figuratively.

Like sharks, the Cougars (14-2, 2-0) smelled blood in the water, using a 10-0 run to pull with eight at the break.

“That 10-0 run killed us,” Trenkle said. “I knew it. I hate when my team has a lead like that because there’s always the possibility of a letdown.”

That possibility turned into reality in the second half, when Kenny Enoch’s triple from the right corner gave the Cougars a 47-45 advantage with 14:35 to play. That lead swelled to as many as 14 in the period, completing a 32-point swing in the final 22 minutes of action.   

“I have guys that are doing their own thing,” Trenkle said. “Then I have guys that are working their tails off. If I need to shorten my rotation, and I will. The next game, you might only see eight guys playing.”

On Wednesday, it didn’t matter which combination Trenkle used after halftime as his team shot just 26 percent on 9-of-34 and allowed a season-worst 50 second-half points.

“Our defense is letting us down right now,” Trenkle said.

Especially when you consider the Cougars torched the nets in the final 20 minutes, shooting 58 percent in the second half.

Jalin Barnes scored 13 points for the Cougars. Enoch and Gracey each added 11.

JT Bennett had his best game as collegiate player for Garden City, scoring 17 points on 5-of-11 shooting. But he tallied just a single point in the second half. Davon Anderson fouled out with 16 points. Tyrell Springer finished with 7 on 2-of-9 from the floor.

Barton County was 25-of-31 from the line; the Busters hit 19-of-21. There were 10 lead changes and five ties.

Tip ins: Barton improved to 37-10 all-time vs. Garden City at home…The Cougars turned it over a season-high 19 times…Garden City hit 5-of-8 from downtown in the first half before going 1-for-10 after the break…First 0-3 start in conference play in more than 10 years…Tykei Hallman is still dealing with a lingering back injury; he played only limited minutes

Next up: vs. Colby-Saturday, January 10-7:30 p.m. on AM 1030; kbufmobile.com and mobile app: KBUF


Women overcome sluggish start; outlast Lady Cougars

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Great Bend, KS-It must have seemed like déjà vu all over again for Garden City Head Coach Nick Salazar on Wednesday night; watching his team falling behind 5-0 and missing their first eight shots from the field.

“It was atrocious basketball early on,” Salazar said.

But then Justina James got cooking, ending the early, five-minute scoring drought with a 3-pointer, pushing her way to a 17-point night as the Busters held on to beat Barton County 52-47 at the Kirkman Center.

“This game clearly shows everyone just how good Hutchinson is,” Salazar said. “We took a lot away from that loss. The main thing: is we guarded them pretty well.”

People might laugh at that statement because they lost by 53, but the tape doesn’t lie. In fact, it wasn’t as much the Lady Blue Dragons defense as it was Garden City’s self-inflicted wounds.

Despite the slow start, Garden City (10-7, 1-2) began to simmer. James scored 12 first-half points, and the defense held the Lady Cougars scoreless for more than 13 minutes as the Busters built a 40-20 lead with 9:26 remaining. But nothing comes easy for Salazar’s bunch.

“We make games a little too exciting,” the second-year coach said. “That’s been our problem.”

The Cougars, who couldn’t buy a bucket in the first 10 minutes of the second half, started to get things going, thanks in large part to KK Anthony’s 16-point second-half splurge. Her three-point play with five seconds to play pulled Barton County (11-2, 1-1) to within three at 50-47. But with no timeouts remaining, Bianca Cage’s two free throws put the game out of reach.

“This was a good win for our team,” Salazar explained. “We finally got back to doing the things that we’re capable of.”

Loysha Morris, who was marred in a 2-for-15 shooting funk, got back on track-pouring in 17 points on 7-of-14 from the field. Cage added eight points and Tori Spann grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds.

Indiah Cauley tallied eight points for the Lady Cougars. Brandi Williams added two points and 12 boards.

There were five lead changes and four ties. Garden City’s largest lead was 20; Barton’s was five.

Next up: vs. Colby-Saturday, January 10-5:15 p.m. pregame; 5:30 p.m. tip on AM 1030; kbufmobile.com and mobile app: KBUF