May 26, 2024

Broncbuster women hold off Colby; men fall at home


Garden City, KS-Before the start of the season, Garden City Coach Nick Salazar professed that Monica Barefield could be one of the best players to ever come through the program.

“She has a chance to be really special,” he said.

Saturday, she singlehandedly kept the Broncbusters in it before ultimately falling to Neosho in overtime. On Wednesday, the freshman guard once again did her best to live up to her coach’s expectations.

Barefield returned from an injury scare right before the half to score 10 of her game-high 17 points in the fourth quarter, as Garden City surged back to beat Colby 59-45 at the Perryman Athletic Complex.

“Monica has that ability,” Salazar said after the game. “So I’m not surprised at how she played when we needed her.”

And don’t be mistaken: Garden City (7-9, 5-7) needed their star guard down the stretch.

After building a 10-point lead early on, Barefield sat out the third quarter while the trainers worked on her. She was hurt after getting clipped by Aubre Johnson on a screen in the final seconds of the second quarter. The Trojans took full advantage.

Colby (3-13, 1-11) outscored Garden City 14-10 in the third and pulled to within two when Journey Jones drilled a 3-pointer at the buzzer. At the start of the fourth, Jones connected on another trey, this one gave Colby their first lead since the first quarter.

“The tale of the tape is this: when we had to make plays, we made them,” Salazar said. “The fourth quarter was the epitome of how this team can play.”

Trailing 41-40 with 9:39 to go, the Broncbusters took over the game; more specifically, Barefield did.

Once Kavita Akula gave Garden City the lead back with a 3-pointer at the 9:00 mark, it was Barefield converting back-to-back buckets to stretch the advantage to six. Then she finished off a 19-4 spurt with a pair of triples that finally finished off the pesky Trojans.

“We just needed a win to get us going,” Salazar said. “We have talent. We just have to utilize it.”

DeRae Lewis, who helped stretch the lead with three straight baskets in the fourth period, finished with 11 points and 15 rebounds. It was her third double-double of the season. Tionnia McKee added 10 points for the Broncbusters, who snapped a three-game losing streak.

Jones tied a season-high with four 3-pointers for Colby, who lost their eighth straight game. Janea Dennis added eight points, and Johnson reeled in 12 rebounds.

“We still have time to position ourselves in league play,” Salazar added. “We just have to put everything together.”

Facing a Colby team that had lost 17 out of their last 18 conference road games, the Broncbusters had a chance to put their foot on the Trojans’ throat early. And after Megan Besecker drilled a 3-pointer at the end of the first, Garden City had a 20-10 lead.

But the Broncbusters misfired on 14 of their 16 shots in the second quarter, and the Trojans twice cut the lead to four before Garden City pushed it back to six at the half.

“Colby always shoots the ball well against us,” Salazar said. “That’s why they’ve always been able to stay in the game.”

This time it was just the opposite. Colby shot themselves out of the game, going 14-of-75 from the floor (19 percent).

Next up: Garden City vs. Seward County-Saturday, January 14-5:45 p.m. pregame; 6 p.m. tip on 99.9 FM; and mobile app: KWKR




Garden City, KS-If Garden City could figure out how to close games the way they start them, they would be unbeatable. Unfortunately for the Broncbusters, those glimpses of brilliance were short lived again on Wednesday night.

Shaq Athie scored 12 of his 18 points in the second half, Gabriel Gyamfi pulled down a career-best 19 rebounds, and Colby handed Garden City a 69-64 loss at the Perryman Athletic Complex.

“All the credit goes to Colby,” Broncbuster Coach Brady Trenkle said afterwards. “They packed the lane with that 2-3 zone and we jacked up 23 3’s. That’s the difference in the game.”

No disrespect to Trenkle, but the biggest difference in the game was Gyamfi, who was filling in for leading scorer Ajou Deng. And the freshman from Canada did not disappoint.

Gyamfi grabbed 12 of his 19 boards in the first half, and his knack for keeping balls alive helped Colby (7-9, 3-9) climb out of an early nine-point hole.

“Gyamfi hadn’t played significant minutes, and he comes in here and grabs 19 rebounds,” Trenkle said. “That can’t happen.”

It did, and Garden City’s stagnant offense made matters even worse.

Victor Dukes layup with 5:35 to play in the first half gave Garden City (11-5, 7-5) a 24-15 lead. The Broncbusters managed only two points the rest of the period.

Caleal Walker sank two free throws, and Cole Smith drained a coldblooded trey to ignite a 7-0 run. Then, in the waning seconds of the first half, Smith struck again, nailing a triple from the top of the key to give the Trojans a 27-26 lead at halftime.

“We didn’t close the first half well at all,” Trenkle said. “We are so talented, but that alone won’t get it done.”

The first five minutes of the second half saw the lead change hands eight times. But Walker’s three-point play with 14:46 to go put Colby in front for good 41-39. They built that lead to as many as nine with 2:22 remaining.

“We still had a chance,” Trenkle said. “But the game should not have come down to that. Some of our guys played really hard while others did not. We will figure that out over the next couple of days.”

Trailing 63-54, Garden City mounted one final comeback. Josh Fleming, who scored 10 of the first 12 points for the Broncbusters, connected on a 3-pointer from the top of the key. Then Dukes hit a couple of free throws to make it a four-point contest.

“I’ll say this: we kept battling,” Trenkle said.

Up three with 20 seconds left, Walker, who had hit his first five freebies of the night, missed two, leaving the door cracked for the Broncbusters. But Fleming’s potential game-tying 3-pointer from the top drifted off to the left. David Hall grabbed the rebound and hit two charity shots to ice it, as Colby became the second team this season to beat Garden City on their home floor.

“Before the game, Josh told me his legs were just not there,” Trenkle said. “I just don’t understand why they’re feeling that way.”

Fleming was sensational in the first 10 minutes of the game. But he managed only three points over the final 30. Naradain James scored 14 and pulled down 10 rebounds; his third double-double for the Broncbusters, who lost for the second time in their last three games. Ben Howze added nine points and nine boards.

Chavis chipped in 15 for Colby, who won their first road game since Nov. 7. Walker added nine and Smith had eight.

Next up: Garden City vs. Seward County-Saturday, January 14-8 p.m. on 99.9 FM; and mobile app: KWKR