Listen to the complete game in our archives section
Liberal, KS (westernkansasnews.com)-Not much has gone right for the Garden City boys this season.
But for 20 magical minutes on Tuesday night, the bounces finally went their way.
Garrett Doll scored 18 points and was 10-for-10 at the line, Erwin Leal added a season-high 16, and the Buffaloes ended their five-game losing streak with a 57-54 overtime victory over Class 5A No. 6 Liberal at the Big House.
“We made things happen,” Garden City Head Coach Jacy Holloway said. “And I can’t say enough about our defensive effort tonight. They did a great job.”
The Buffaloes limited Liberal to their second lowest shooting night of the season: 18-for-47 (38 percent) from the field and 2-for-12 from downtown (17 percent).
“When it comes down to it, that’s where we won this game,” Holloway said. “Of course, the guys made shots, but we don’t win if we don’t get stops.”
In the first half, Garden City (6-14, 1-7) couldn’t muster much. They missed nine of their first 10 shots and spotted Liberal a 16-6 lead. The Redskins battered them on the glass, outrebounding the brown and white 19-8 while grabbing 10 offensive boards in the first half.
“They (Liberal) had their way with us early on,” Holloway explained. “But give our guys a lot of credit; they never bowed out.”
Leal singlehandedly kept the Buffaloes in it, scoring 11 of his 13 first-half points in the second quarter, which included back-to-back acrobatic layups that pulled Garden City to within two. But the Redskins closed the second by scoring the last four, stamped by Kylan Thomas’s uncontested layup as time expired that gave Liberal a 25-19 advantage at the intermission.
Liberal stretched their lead to seven following Deladris Green’s sensational and-1 at the end of the third quarter that put the Redskins up 39-32.
That’s when the pendulum finally swung Garden City’s way.
Doll splashed home a 3-pointer in the first 30 seconds of the fourth, hit four free throws; Leal drilled three freebies, and the Buffaloes were within a single point with 3:52 to play.
“You could see Garrett had confidence tonight,” Holloway said. “We’ve been waiting for that to come through.”
The next time down the floor, the sophomore guard banged home a triple that gave Garden City their first lead of the night 45-44.
The celebration was short lived. Green answered with a three-point play that gave the Redskins the lead back 47-45 with 1:09 left.
In games past, that type of adversity might have spelled doom for Holloway’s bunch. But not on this night; not in a regular-season finale where both the Buffaloes and Redskins had so much to lose.
On Garden City’s next possession, Edgar Aguilar was fouled. The senior, who missed two free throws earlier in the half, knocked both of them down to tie the game at 47.
“Those were big,” Holloway said describing Aguilar’s two free throws down the stretch. “We knew he was capable.”
It still left Liberal with a chance to win it in the final seconds. Thomas drove the lane and bumped into Aguilar as he let it go. The ball splashed through the net with two seconds to play, but referee Vern Kisner called an offensive foul.
Call it fortuitous; call it a fortunate break, but the Buffaloes dodged a bullet.
“We’ve usually been on the wrong end of plays like that,” Holloway said afterwards. “Tonight, it went out way.”
Leal’s 60-foot heave at the buzzer sailed wide left, sending the game to overtime for the second time this season.
In the extra session, the hero was Jared Koster. The senior, who missed his first six 3-point attempts, finally got one to go that gave Garden City the lead 50-49. After Green’s and-1 put Liberal back in front, Zach Karlin completed a three-point play and the Buffaloes never trailed again.
Aguilar and Doll hit four free throws for Garden City in the final 40 seconds before Cade Hinkle’s potential game-tying 3-pointer from the left corner clanked off the back rim as time expired.
The loss spoiled another spectacular performance by Green, who recorded his 11th double-double of the season with 27 points and 11 rebounds. He was the lone Redskin in double figures.
Koster scored nine points for Garden City, but he missed 12 of his 15 shots. He was 1-for-7 from beyond the arc. Aguilar scored six and freshman Tye Davis added five, including a big 3-pointer in the third quarter that pulled the Buffaloes to within two.
Tip ins: The loss coupled with Dodge City’s win over Hays means Thursday’s showdown between the Redskins and Red Demons will determine who gets a share of the Western Athletic Conference title…The Buffaloes victory moved them into third place in the substate; a loss by Wichita Northwest and Wichita North in their regular season finales this week, and the Buffaloes clinch a home playoff game
Next up: 1st Round of substate-Thursday, March 3-TBA on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr; mobile app: KWKR and tuneinradio app: KWKR
Listen to the complete game in our archives section
Liberal, KS (westernkansasnews.com)-The script was one all too familiar to David Upton: build a big lead in the first half; then fall behind in the second.
On Tuesday night, the veteran coach watched his team do it again. This time though, it finally ended their hopes of hosting a first-round playoff game.
Ali Lucero scored a season-high 19 points, Diamond Bailey recovered from a horrific start to finish with 11, and Liberal swept the season series from Garden City for the first time since 2009 with a 44-41 victory at the Big House.
“We played really well for most of the night,” Upton said afterwards. “But we have to learn how to finish games. We get to a point where everything is clicking, but in the end, we couldn’t finish.”
Garden City (6-14, 0-8) absolutely manhandled Liberal in the first half, using a 10-0 run to build a 26-16 lead at the break. The Buffaloes held the Redskins scoreless the final 4:00 of the second quarter.
“We were so good in that first half,” Upton said. “But we missed our opportunity.”
Liberal (11-8, 4-3) came out guns a blazing in the third. Megan Larkin had a put back, Ali Lucero knocked down a jumper and a 3-pointer that pulled the Redskins to within two. After Josie Calzoneti put the Buffaloes up four, Isabel Longoria fouled Lucero shooting a half-court shot at the buzzer. The sophomore sank all three free throws, and Liberal trailed 31-30 at the end of three.
“We made some mistakes in the second half; that’s for sure,” Upton said. “That play was one of them.”
Liberal surged in front early in the fourth when Diamond Bailey, who had missed her first seven shots from the field, drained a trey from the top of the key. Lucero added two free throws; Jada Mickens hit one followed by Bailey’s three-point play and the Redskins had their largest lead of the night 39-33 with 2:28 to play.
Then Tiffany Butler took over.
The senior made one last attempt to get Garden City over the hump, scoring the Buffaloes final eight points: a three-point play, a 3-pointer that banked in from the right corner and a driving layup with 11 seconds that pulled the brown and white to within one 42-41.
But the dream finished went up in smoke when Bailey sank two free throws and Joslyn Munoz’s 3-pointer from the left wing fell short, completing the Buffaloe’s first winless conference season since 2003.
Abbie Dart scored 13 of her 15 points in the first half for Garden City, who lost a season-high fifth straight game. Butler scored eight of her 10 in the fourth while Calzonetti added eight and a team-best 10 rebounds.
Whitney Hay scored five for Liberal, who recorded double-digit wins for the first time since 2010. Mickens was held to just three points and was 0-for-5 from the field. She did pull down a game-high 11 rebounds.
“If we can play like we did tonight in the first half, we have a shot against anyone,” Upton said. “Again, that key word is finish. We have to finish games stronger.”
The teams traded punches early, with six lead changes and three ties in the first half. Dart scored seven straight midway through the first quarter and six in a row halfway through the second that helped the Buffaloes build a 10-point lead.
Liberal led by two twice: the first on Carolina Limon’s layup to start the game and again when Hay knocked down a rainbow 3-pointer that made it 10-8 Redskins.
Tip ins: Garden City shot under 40 percent for the 14th straight game…The loss sets up a rematch of last year’s substate semifinal vs. Hutchinson-set for Wednesday, March 2nd
Next up: Garden City at Hutchinson-Substate 1st round-time TBA-Wednesday, March 2 on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr; mobile app: KWKR and tuneinradio app: KWKR