June 19, 2024

Cloud haunts GCCC; women win in come-from-behind fashion

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Concordia, KS (westernkansasnews.com)-There is several places in the Jayhawk West where wins seem to come at a premium. The ones that come to mind: the Sports Arena in Hutchinson and the Power Plant at Butler. But none of them have provided more problems for Brady Trenkle than Arley Bryant Gymnasium.

“I don’t know why I can’t win here,” Trenkle said. “Other teams come in here and win. For some reason we can’t.”

The Buster boss can thank a three-minute scoring drought to close the game for his team’s demise as the Thunderbirds overcame a late six-point deficit to beat Garden City 67-63.

“It’s the same thing every time,” Trenkle said. “We just can’t figure it out. Every game ends up the same. We just totally lost our focus.”

Leading 63-57 with 3:30 remaining, it seemed pretty clear that Garden City (16-12, 5-9) had outplayed Cloud County 16-11, 3-10) for the most part. But as in games past the narrative never deviated, and the Busters faltered down the stretch once again.

Myreek Fowlkes split a pair of free throws, and Garden City equaled their largest lead of the game with 3:30 to play. They never scored again.

E.J. Garnes, who up to that point was the biggest statistical anomaly in the Jayhawk having hit only one 3-pointer in conference play, buried two, including one in crunch time to pull the Thunderbirds within three. Then Devon Thomas took over. First it was a slashing layup, blowing past John Bell en route to the goal. After Bell turned it over on other end, it was the Missouri-State transfer again beating Bell, this time off the dribble where he laid it in plus the foul to give Cloud County the lead for good. But it’s what happened on the ensuing free throw that summed up Garden City’s second half tale.  

Thomas, a 65-percent shooter from the stripe, left the free one short, but Creighton Brinker stole the rebound away from Tidell Piere, and the Thunderbirds had another crack at it. Seconds later, Thomas shoveled a pass underneath for Isaiah Hicks who was hacked on the block. The sophomore from Long Beach, drained a pair of charity shots, and Cloud County had a three-point edge.

“There are no excuses not to grab the rebound in that situation,” Trenkle said. “It’s that simple. And our defense wasn’t very good. And the turnovers down the stretch killed us.”

Still licking their wounds, the Busters had a shot to tie the game with a minute to play. But JT Bennett’s 3-pointer from the left wing spun in and out, and Demonte Ojinnaka grabbed the Cloud County rebound. Thomas was eventually fouled with the shot clock winding down, and this time hit both free throws to put it away. He finished with 13 points on 4-of-11 shooting.

Brinker led the way for Cloud County with 14 points and eight boards. Trevor Singleton, despite foul trouble, scored 12 and pulled down five rebounds.

Davon Anderson scored 10 of his game-high 19 points in the second half to pace the Busters, who lost by five points or less for the third time in conference play. Bell netted 14 points, and hit a couple of huge buckets down the stretch that kept Garden City afloat. Bennett had 12.

Tip ins: Brady Trenkle fell to 0-5 lifetime as a Head Coach at Cloud County…Thunderbirds have now won nine out of the last 14 meetings, including four straight at home…The loss means Garden City will likely travel for the opening round of the conference tournament…Garden City shot under 40 percent for the fourth time in their last five games (34 percent)…The loss ensures the program will finish with a losing record in conference for the fourth time in the last six years

Next up: vs. Seward County-Wednesday, February 18-7:30 p.m. on AM 1030 KBUF; westernkansasnews.com; mobile app: KBUF and tuneinradio app: KBUF


Buried; but not dead-Busters storm back in the second half

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Concordia, KS (westernkansasnews.com)-Things looked pretty bleak when Garden City Head Coach Nick Salazar looked up at the scoreboard with 1:10 left to play in the first half. His team was trailing 29-16, and to that point had been thoroughly dominated by Cloud County.

“We were taking bad shots the entire first half,” Salazar said. “We couldn’t do anything.”

But then Loysha Morris, who played sparingly Saturday night because of a bum knee, knocked down an elbow jumper right before the half, injecting life back into a team that had shot just 5-of-27 in the first 20 minutes.

“It was a big momentum shifter,” Salazar explained.

That’s for sure. It fueled a 45-point second-half and an 18-point swing as Garden City stormed back to beat Cloud County 63-58 at Arley Bryant Gymnasium.

“We make it a point to not shoot jump shots in practice,” Salazar said. “Our emphasis was to take the ball to the rim. But we were missing everything in the first half.”

That changed in the second, and thanks to Kate Inchun’s 3-point assault, the Busters avoided their first five-game losing streak since 2011. The sophomore from Houston, who missed her only shot attempt in the first half, was dead on in the second period, connecting on all four of her trey attempts.

“The work that she’s (Inchun’s) put in is unbelievable,” Salazar said. “She’s starting to show the promise we thought we might see last year. She’s also gaining more interest at the next level.”

Inchun’s second 3-pointer from the top of the key pulled Garden City (14-14, 5-9) to within one 47-46. Seconds later, Tionnia McKee picked Alyssa Steppe’s pocket, drove to the other end and gave the Busters their first lead of the night with 6:42 remaining. That edge swelled to as many as five thanks to two more triples by Inchun down the stretch.

“It was special to watch,” Salazar said. “When Kate gets hot, look out.”

Inchun’s second-half antics buried Cloud County (11-15, 4-9), who shot just 9-of-31 in the second half.

Tori Spann scored 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Busters. Tashawyna Edwards tallied eight, while Bianca Cage and McKee added seven apiece.

Luize Skrastina notched her fifth double-double of the season for the Thunderbirds with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Crystal Idika had 10.

Tip ins: After turning it over 15 times in the first half, Garden City gave it away just seven times in the second…It’s the Busters second straight win at Cloud County…It was the sixth straight game that Garden City shot under 40 percent…Garden City improved to 6-7 away from home

Next up: vs. Seward County-Wednesday, February 18-5:15 p.m. pregame; 5:30 p.m. tip on AM 1030 KBUF; westernkansasnews.com; mobile app: KBUF and tuneinradio app: KBUF