Here we go again; Busters blow double-digit lead in loss to No. 18 Hutch

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Hutchinson, KS ( Saturday night’s upset win over No. 4 Butler, Garden City men’s coach Brady Trenkle believed his team had turned the corner. But whatever momentum they gained over the weekend was quickly swallowed up in a 24-minute span that, to this point, has defined the Busters’ season.

Bashier Ahmed led five Hutchinson players in double figures with 21, and the 18th-ranked Blue Dragons connected on a season-high 45 free throws on their way to an 80-68 victory Wednesday night at the Sports Arena.

“Our guys were out there doing their own thing in the second half,” Trenkle explained afterwards. “We had our game plan; they didn’t run it at all after halftime.”

Before the break was a different story as Garden City (14-10, 3-7) built their lead to as many as 11 with 3:43 left in the first half. Then the transmission died; the wheels fell off; either cliché still couldn’t correctly depict what happened in the final 24 minutes

Leading 30-19, Hutchinson (20-4, 7-3) closed the half by scoring the final nine points, punctuated by Keanu Pinder’s steal and emphatic slam. The Busters led by two at intermission.

“I had guys coming into the locker room with their heads down,” Trenkle said. “And we had the lead. They had no energy after that.”

And it showed in the first 10 minutes of the final frame, when Pinder buried a 3-pointer from the left corner, putting the Blue Dragons ahead for good 39-38 with 10:10 remaining. They extended their cushion to as many as 13, thanks in large part to 40 second-half free throw attempts.

“A team shoots that many free throws in one half; it’s hard to beat them,” Trenkle said. “We didn’t defend well at all.”

It didn’t help matters that Hutchinson hit 32 of those 40 charity shots. They also shot 40% in the second half after misfiring on nine of their first 10 shots from the field to begin the game.

“I have some sophomores that are wasting their seasons,” Trenkle said. “It’s really unfortunate.”

The aforementioned John Bell and Tidell Piere combined to score just nine points on 3-of-8 shooting. Bell fouled out late in the second half.

Despite falling down by double figures, Garden City made one final push. JT Bennett’s triple and Tyrell Springer’s steal and dunk cut the Blue Dragons lead to 66-61 with two minutes to play. But with a chance to make it a one-possession game, Richie Spiller turned the ball over on a force in the lane. It was one of eight giveaways on the night for the sophomore point guard.

“Richie had no assists to eight turnovers,” Trenkle said. “You can’t win when your point guard has those types of numbers. He was doing everything he shouldn’t do.”

In fairness, he wasn’t the only guilty part. Bell had five turnovers, and Springer was responsible for three. In all, the Busters had 21 empty possessions.

And the defense that Trenkle has relied on in his two years running the show in Garden City, wilted in the second half, allowing 52 points in the final 20 minutes.

Spiller paced the Busters with 15 points. Springer added 12, and Davon Anderson had 10 points and six boards. Garden City shot just 34 percent in the second half.

DeShawn Freeman, who came in averaging nearly a double-double, scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half. He pulled down seven rebounds. Pinder chipped in 14 while Akbar Hoffman tallied 12; Che Bob 11.

There were four ties and three lead changes.

Tip ins: Hutch has now won five straight games over Garden City at the Sports Arena and nine out of the last 10…The Blue Dragons have won six straight games since a season-worst three-game skid…Garden City hasn’t won three straight games since late November…The Busters shot 31 less free throws than Hutchinson…The Busters outrebounded the Blue Dragons 43-31; it’s the 19th time this season Garden City has won the battle on the glass

Next up: vs. No. 25 Barton County-Saturday, February 7-7:30 p.m. on AM 1030;; mobile app: KBUF and tuneinradio app: KBUF


Efficiency the name of the game; top-ranked Hutch steamrolls Busters

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Hutchinson, KS ( could probably count on one hand just how many freshman players John Ontjes has started in his eight seasons at the head of the Hutchinson bench. But in 2015, the one-time star in Billy Tubbs backcourt is going against his usual trend.

Newcomer Cynthia Petke, a 6-1 prodigy from Cameroon, apparently is the exception to Ontjes’s steadfast rule. Just ask BYU-commit Kalani Purcell, who came off the bench during her first season and was arguably the best player in the Jayhawk Conference.

Petke needs no introduction now, scoring 17 points and pulling down a season-best 18 rebounds, notching her 13th double-double of the year as No. 1 Hutchinson waltzed to a 67-39 victory over Garden City Wednesday night at the Sports Arena.

“They had 50 points with less than seven minutes to play,” Buster Head Coach Nick Salazar said afterwards. “We tried to limit their possessions all night. But they always find a way.”

If you walked into the all-new analytics department in Salazar’s office, you would find a stat that reads just how efficient the Lady Blue Dragons are:

“I was told that if they had 60 possessions, they will score 60 times,” Salazar explained. “And they just about did that to us tonight.”

Garden City (12-12, 3-7) did make things interesting early, even after they went the first six minutes without scoring-falling down 12-0. They pulled to with seven at 16-9 midway through the opening half. But that’s as close as the Busters got as Hutchinson (24-0, 10-0) closed the period on a 14-6 run and led 30-15 at the break.

The Lady Blue Dragons built that lead to as many as 36 with 1:30 to play in the game before the Busters closed the contest on an 8-0 run sparked by Loysha Morris’s two late-game triples. Unfortunately it was too little too late.

Morris was the only Buster in double figures with 17 points. The rest of the team combined to score 22 points on 7-of-32 from the field.

“She (Morris) played well,” Salazar said. “But she didn’t have much help; although I liked what Tionnia gave us tonight. I have all the confidence in the world in Tionnia McKee.”

The freshman definitely showed glimpses, ending the Busters six-minute scoring drought to begin the game. But she finished the night with just five points. Bianca Cage scored four points on 1-of-10 shooting.

Purcell recorded her 34th career double-double with 22 points and 13 rebounds for Hutchinson. Clemence LeFebvre added 18 points and four boards.

Tip ins: Hutchinson won their 114th straight game at the Sports Arena and improved to 141-3 all-time at home under Ontjes…It’s the 10th straight win for Hutchinson over Garden City at the Sports Arena (Garden City’s last win there: February 14, 2004 65-63)…Hutchinson is now 36-3 vs. Garden City all-time at the Sports Arena and own a 64-16 series record…The Lady Blue Dragons have held Garden City under 30 percent shooting in both contests this season…Hutchinson outrebounded Garden City 45-19

Next up: vs. Barton-Saturday, February 7 5:15 p.m .pregame; 5:30 p.m .tip on AM 1030 KBUF;; mobile app: KBUF and tuneinradio app: KBUF