Garden City, KS (westernkansasnews.com)-When Garden City looks back at the 2014-2015 season, one common theme will stand out above all others: the inability to finish. And for the second time in a month, that problem reared its ugly head against the fellas from Great Bend.
Khalil Gracey scored 21 points off the bench and Ahmad Walker added 16 and nine rebounds as Barton County stormed back from a nine-point deficit to beat the Busters 73-68 Saturday night at the Perryman Athletic Complex.
“It’s a hard thing to figure out,” Head Coach Brady Trenkle said when asked about his team’s inconsistency. “My guys are giving everything they have. We’ll continue to grind and figure this thing out.”
Trenkle appeared worn out following his team’s latest setback; especially after he watched his team build a 16-7 lead seven minutes into the game. But Barton County (20-5, 8-3) never blinked, outscoring the Busters 22-13 over the next 11 minutes to grab a 30-29 edge. Only a J.T. Bennett hail-mary triple prevented the Cougars from taking the lead into the half. In reality, it only delayed the inevitable.
The Cougars grabbed the advantage for good two minutes into the second half when Walker converted a sensational three-point play. That layup ignited a 24-14 spurt, putting Barton County up 58-48 with less than 10 minutes to play.
“They outplayed us,” Trenkle said. “We look good for a while; then go back to doing our own thing. It’s frustrating.”
Garden City (14-11, 3-8) worked their way back into the game in the final five minutes, using two Tyrell Springer dunks to pull with three with less than two minutes to play. But on the ensuing Cougars’ possession, a blown defensive assignment left Gracey wide open from the top of the key. The freshman from Bloomfield Hills, MI drilled the trey and the Barton County lead swelled to six.
“That’s why he (Gracey) hit the shot,” Trenkle said. “There was no one near him. The guy was shooting 40 percent from there. Inexcusable to leave him uncovered.”
Moments later the Busters closed the gap to two points only to have Jalin Barnes follow it up with an 18-foot jumper that seemingly put the game away. The sophomore finished with 11 points.
The Cougars connected on 8-of-18 from downtown and won despite missing 14 free throws (11-of-25).
Bennett paced the Busters with 15 points. He’s now scored 32 in two games against Barton County this season. Springer added 13 points, four rebounds and three steals. Richie Spiller tallied 11.
Next up: at Colby-Monday, February 9 8 p.m. on AM 1030 KBUF; westernkansasnews.com; mobile app: KBUF and tuneinradio app: KBUF
Sputtering out of the gates; women blown out at home
Garden City, KS (westernkansasnews.com)-Maybe the most volatile area of junior college basketball is the Jayhawk Conference; there’s no sure thing on any given night. The Garden City women have learned that the hard way this season.
Despite being littered with a talented-roster, which includes two Division-I players in Loysha Morris and Taleah Williams, Head Coach Nick Salazar could only watch as his team dug themselves into an early 21-point hole in a 66-46 loss to Barton County Saturday night at the Perryman Athletic Complex.
“We’ve lost to bad teams this year; that’s what separates us from teams like Barton County,” Salazar said. “They’ve beaten the teams that they’re supposed to beat.”
And even the ones that, on paper, they were clearly outmatched against like Garden City. Even Lady Cougars coach Carter Kruger, who spent a season in Garden City as an assistant under Alaura Sharp, had to be wondering how his girls, who were a late run away from being blown out in their own gym to the same Buster team back in January, were so easily dissecting Salazar’s defense that had held 15 previous opponents to under 40 percent shooting.
“This team is hard to figure out,” Salazar said with a chuckle. “It’s hard to gauge where they’re at.”
On Saturday night, they were outplayed and outhustled, specifically on the glass where the Cougars owned a 41-27 advantage. They also allowed Barton County (16-7, 6-5) to shoot 48 percent from the floor.
And it was never really much of a game, even after Garden City (12-13, 3-8) had cut the lead to nine on three separate occasions, the last being at the 10:08 mark of the second half. But the Cougars never let them get any closer, closing the game on a 20-9 run.
Phikala Anthony scored a game-high 23 points for the Cougars on an efficient 8-of-11 from the field. McKinna Kraus owned the low post, scoring 13 points while India Cauley grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.
Morris was the lone Buster in double figures with 16 points on 5-of-10. The rest of her team was a combined 9-of-40 (23 percent).
Next up: at Colby-Monday, February 9 5:45 p.m. pregame; 6 p.m. tip on AM 1030 KBUF; westernkansasnews.com; mobile app: KBUF and tuneinradio app: KBUF