Garden City, KS (westernkansasnews.com)-There’s been one major question facing Jacy Holloway’s Buffaloes all season long: can they find a third scorer; someone to take the burden off of Caleb Tramp and Jared Koster. On Friday night vs. Hays, the answer to that question became definitively clearer.
Isaiah Nunnery scored 16 points; Brady Werth added 10 points and six rebounds and Hays gobbled up the Buffaloes 47-39 at the Garden.
“We figured things out at times,” Holloway said after the game. “But then we gave Werth some easy ones. And you can’t do that. We were trying to make things difficult for him.”
And for the most part they did, holding the two-time reigning Western Athletic Conference player of the year to just 4-of-12 shooting. But it wasn’t the low-post presence that hurt Garden City (11-8, 5-2); it was the 3-point arsenal that Rick Keltner’s team has rediscovered.
In Tuesday night’s 16-point win over No. 6 Abilene, Hays (12-6, 4-2) buried a season-high 13 triples. In fact, their first 12 shots of that game were all treys; they hit six of them. And while the Indians hit only six long balls on Friday, it was more of when they hit them than how many they actually connected on.
After the Buffaloes erased a 10-point, second-half deficit to tie the game at 31 with less than 10 seconds to play in the third, it was Nunnery providing a shot in the arm for a team, who for more than three minutes in the period, looked completely lost. As the buzzer sounded to end the quarter, the junior drilled a deep 3-pointer from the left wing to give the Indians the lead for good 34-31 heading into the fourth. After the shot went in, Nunnery was mobbed by his team.
“That was definitely a back breaker,” Holloway explained. “For some reason, we don’t play teams well the second time around. We’ve proven that against Dodge City and now Hays.”
But the lack of offensive production has to be worrisome to Holloway, who saw Tramp and Koster combine to score 31 of his team’s 39 points. They were 12-of-32 shooting collectively; the rest of the team together was just 3-of-11.
“It’s something we’re still searching to find,” Holloway explained when asked about a third scorer. “We need someone else to step up.”
The most likely candidate would appear to be guard Akil Love, but the senior fired up just four shots in a relatively quiet outing. Reading further between the lines: Only two players (Love and Jesus Reyes) besides Koster and Tramp, had more than two shot attempts. And it didn’t help matters that Garden City was just 2-of-19 from downtown. They’re now 3-of-their-last 36 from 3-point land (1-of-17 vs. Dodge City).
Keith Dryden, who torched Abilene on Tuesday with a career-high six 3-pointers, hit only two Friday night and finished with eight points for the Indians. Shane Berens chipped in six.
Love posted six points, and Reyes had two for the Buffaloes.
Tip ins: Garden City can still clinch a share of their first WAC title since 2002 with a victory Tuesday night over Liberal…It’s the sixth time in the last 11 meetings that a game between the two teams was decided by single digits…Garden City’s largest lead was 8-7 with 2:31 left in the first quarter; Hays led 31-21 with 3:34 to play in the third…There were four lead changes and three ties, the last of which came in the final minute of the third quarter when Caleb Tramp was at the line trying to complete a 3-point play that would have given the Buffaloes a one-point edge; the senior missed the shot, which setup that end-of-quarter prayer by Nunnery
Next up: vs. Liberal, Tuesday, February 24-7:30 p.m. tip on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com; mobile app: KWKR and tuneinradio app: KWKR
Girls push past much-improved Hays squad
Garden City, KS (westernkansasnews.com)-The Garden City girls have been pretty good this season about taking care of teams that they’re supposed to beat, while sprinkling in a few upsets. Friday night, they did what most expected them to do.
Jessica Carillo reached double figures for the 11th time this season, scoring 16 points on 6-of-10 from field as the Buffaloes completed a season sweep of Hays with a 47-30 victory at the Garden.
“Obviously we’re happy with the win,” a less than ecstatic David Upton said afterwards. “But we need to score more. That’s our big issue.”
And against a Hays (5-13, 1-5) team that was allowing nearly 50 points per contest coming in, the Buffaloes struggled to put the ball in the basket in the second quarter. After building a 22-8 cushion with 3:40 left in the first half, the Indians went on the offensive, scoring eight straight points to close the period, pulling to within six at the half. That’s as close as they would get.
Garden City (11-8, 4-3) used a 14-2 spurt in the third quarter to blow the game open, eventually taking a 44-24 lead in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter.
“We were much better in doing what we wanted to do in the second half,” Upton said. “We were attacking and getting out on the break.”
They also shot 50 percent over the final two quarters and got contributions across the board. Abbie Dart, who served a one-game suspension on Tuesday night, returned to score nine points as did Jaymie Bernbeck. Jessica Hinde pitched in with seven.
Audra Schmeidler scored eight points to lead Hays.
Next up: vs. Liberal-Tuesday, February 24-5:45 p.m. pregame; 6 p.m. tip on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com; mobile app: KWKR and tuneinradio app: KWKR