Akula’s big buckets lift Garden City; men blown out at home


Box Score

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Garden City, KS (westernkansasnews.com)-Garden City Coach Nick Salazar has said it all season long:  Kavita Akula is the most important player on the floor.

Wednesday night, with everything unraveling in the second half, the freshman from India proved her worth in a big-time way.

Akula scored 13 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:00 to play in overtime, Shala Dobbins netted 26, and Garden City survived a major scare with a 73-70 victory over Dodge City at the Perryman Athletic Complex.

“I’m not happy at all with the way we played in the second half,” Salazar said. “We let them stay in it. And Dodge is dangerous enough to where if you let them stay in a game, it can come back to bite you.”

Akula made sure that didn’t happen, but there were still plenty of anxious moments over the final three quarters.

It appeared Dodge City (16-10, 6-9) was finished after Dobbins’ layup gave Garden City (19-7, 13-2) their largest lead of the night 45-29 with 4:41 to play in the third quarter. But the Conquistadors absorbed the blow and punched right back.

Dodge City answered with an 11-2 run to end the period, and when Fantasia Johnson completed a three-point play early in the fourth, the Conquistadors had scored nine straight points to pull to within three 47-44.

“We got very sloppy in the second half,” Salazar said. “A missed layup and they were off. A turnover and they scored. Those are the things we have to clean up to win a conference title.”

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Five times over the final six minutes, Dodge City closed to within a single point. Then with 10 seconds remaining, Mark James’ team had a golden opportunity to steal one on the road.

With her team up one, Dobbins had a chance to ice the game at the line. But she missed both free throws, and Rachel Slattery grabbed the rebound for Dodge City.

On the other end, Dasia Johnson went one-on-one with Dobbins before drawing the fifth foul on the Broncbusters guard with 8.6 seconds left.

“We can’t keep putting ourselves in those types of situations,” Salazar said.

Johnson hit the first to tie the game at 65, but her second attempt rattled out, giving Garden City a chance to win it in regulation.

Those chances went up in smoke when Dominique Maxwell’s 3-pointer from the top of the key failed to draw iron, sending the game into overtime.

Dodge City outscored Garden City 36-16 over the final 14:41 to force the extra session.

In overtime, the Conquistadors grabbed their first lead since the opening minute of the game when Slattery splashed home two freebies to make it 67-65. The freshman from Spearville, notched her 11th double-double of the season with 20 points and 14 rebounds.

Donasja Scott answered on other end with a driving layup that tied the game at 67. But her celebration was short lived after she picked her fifth foul less than a minute later.

“We overcame three of our main players fouling out,” Salazar said. “But it should never have come to that.”

(Fantasia) Johnson’s prayer from the right baseline pushed Dodge City ahead once more 69-67 with 2:50 to go in the extra period.

Then, in stepped Akula.

The freshman, who has logged more minutes this season than any other Garden City player, tied the contest with a jumper from the elbow. Moments later, she drained a cold-blooded trey from the top of the key with the shot clock winding down that gave the Broncbusters the lead for good 72-70.

But it wasn’t without one more scare from the Conquistadors, who were given another shot when Maxwell split a pair of free throws in the final seconds. Fortunately for Maxwell, Antania Newton’s 30-foot 3-pointer clanked off the back rim at the buzzer, and Garden City survived Dodge City’s upset bid.  

Dobbins scored 14 of her 26 points in the second half before fouling out in the final 10 seconds of regulation. Scott added 11 and seven boards.

Brittany Leonard and (Fantasia) Johnson each scored 10 for Dodge City, who fell to 4-8 over their last 12 games after starting the season 12-2. Newton finished with eight points but was 0-for-5 from the field.

Tip ins: DeRae Lewis fouled out with 1:16 to play in overtime…Garden City has now beaten Dodge City 18 out of the last 19 times

Next up: Garden City at Colby-Saturday, February 13-5:45 p.m. pregame; 6 p.m. tip on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr; mobile app: KWKR and tuneinradio app: KWKR




Box Score

Listen to the complete game in our archives section

Garden City, KS (westernkansasnews.com)-The 2015-2016 season has turned into the infirmary ward at Garden City.

Unfortunately for men’s coach Brady Trenkle, his team hasn’t been able to overcome those rash of injuries.  

Jamie Rutherford recorded his third double-double of the season with 26 points and 16 rebounds, Josh Boutte added 16 and 18 boards, and Dodge City dished Garden City a little payback with an 84-71 victory Wednesday night at the Perryman Athletic Complex.

Garden City was shorthanded again, playing without guard Jamar Gilbert, who’s out for the year following knee surgery and forward Diontae Jones, who has a partially-torn hamstring.

“At the end of the day, there are no excuses,” Trenkle explained afterwards. “But the facts are the facts-we played without two main guys again, and then we lost J.T. (Bennett) in the second half. We can’t control that stuff.”

Bennett injured his knee with less than 15 minutes to go in the game. He did not return.

“The trainers told me that he couldn’t go back in,” Trenkle said. “And we needed him tonight. He brought so much energy to the floor.”

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The sophomore guard kept Garden City (14-12, 6-9) in the game early, scoring nine straight points during one stretch in the first half that helped the Broncbusters build a four-point lead. But Trenkle’s team was held to only two field goals over the final 4:18 of the period. Dodge closed the first 20 minutes on an 11-2 run and took a 41-32 lead into the locker room.

“We lost this game during the final five minutes of the first half and the first five minutes of the second half,” Trenkle said. “We knew what we couldn’t give them and we gave it to them anyways.”

The Conquistadors scored the first nine points of the second half to build their lead to 47-32. Boutte then split two free throws, Jeremy Treaudo drained a 3-pointer and Rutherford knocked down a runner to give Dodge City (19-7, 10-5) their largest advantage of the night 60-39 with 13:59 to play.

Only once did Garden City trim the deficit to single digits and that came when Jabar Ray hit two charity shots with 1:27 to go. But Cloud-County transfer Lorenzo Dillard put the game on ice after James McNeal fouled him shooting a 3-pointer. The sophomore hit all three free throws, and Dodge City won for the fifth time in their last six games.

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Dillard finished the night with 17 points despite missing 12 of his 15 shots. He was 9-for-9 at the free throw line. Treaudo added 11 for the Conqiusatadors, who beat the Broncbusters for only the sixth time in their last 20 meetings.

Josh Fleming scored 16 points for the Broncbusters but was just 5-for-21 from the field. Bennett chipped in 14 before getting hurt and Ray had 14 as well.

“I was dreading this game because we didn’t have good practices the last couple of days,” Trenkle said. “It showed tonight.”

Garden City was 27-for-75 from the field (36 percent) and 6-for-23 from beyond the arc (26 percent).

The game started inauspiciously for Garden City after Jonathan Joseph’s reverse jam gave Dodge City a 2-0 lead. Five minutes later Joseph slammed home an alley-oop lob from James Newton to give the Conquistadors a 12-6 advantage with 14:50 to go in the first half. They built that lead to as many as eight before Bennet’s first-half barrage gave Garden City a four-point edge.

Next up: Garden City at Colby-Saturday, February 13-8 p.m. tip on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr; mobile app: KWKR and tuneinradio app: KWKR