May 26, 2024

Garden boys pull off major upset; knock off No. 5 Hugoton

Photos by Adam Shrimplin

Highlights

Garden City, KS-In his seven years as Garden City Head Coach, Jacy Holloway has accomplished a lot. But the first half of the 2016-2017 season was one to forget-dropping their first six games out of the gate.

And it appeared the Buffaloes were on their way to the program’s first 0-7 start in nearly 86 years. But something clicked over the Christmas Break.

“We used those 24 days to get right,” Holloway explained.

Boy did they ever.

Zac Karlin scored a game-best 13 points, Garrett Doll netted eight of his 12 points in the third quarter, and Garden City avoided their worst start since 1931 with a 58-39 victory over previously unbeaten and 3A No. 1 Hugoton Tuesday night at the Garden.

“We had seen glimpses of what this team could do during our first six games,” Holloway said. “So we weren’t surprised. It all just came together.”

The Eagles looked nothing like a top-five team in their class, stumbling out of the gates and falling behind 13-6 thanks to Karlin’z buzzer-beating 3-pointer to end the third quarter.

“We made shots,” Holloway said. “That was nice.”

Garden City connected on a season-high 55 percent from the floor.

“It was refreshing,” Holloway said. “This game is about playing good defense and being able to knock down shots. We did both.”

And it was a carefully constructed defensive plan that pushed the Eagles to the brink.

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Before their game with Holcomb to close out the first half of the season, Holloway and his staff instituted a 3-2 zone. And despite falling to the Longhorns, the plan appeared to be a success.

“Our team executed it better than I expected,” Holloway said.

So why not go back to the well a second time? The Buffaloes did just that.

That 3-2 zone frustrated Hugoton all night, forcing 14 turnovers and keeping the normally post-heavy Eagles off the block.

It allowed Garden City (1-6) to build a 15-6 edge early in the second quarter. After the Eagles used seven straight points to cut the deficit to two, freshman Carlos Acosta converted a three-point play and a triple to push the lead back to seven. Then Brunson sank 1-of-2 free throws, and Garden City held Hugoton scoreless the final 2:47 to take a 24-16 lead into the locker room.

“It was clearly our best defensive performance of the season,” Holloway said.

 The Eagles never got any closer, thanks to Doll, whose 1-of-6 shooting in the first half was a distant memory with a 3-for-3, eight-point showing in the third that included a wild layup as the junior guard was falling out of bounds.

“Garrett is mentally tough,” Holloway said. “He won’t be deterred just because he missed some shots.”

Doll’s resurgence, coupled with a steady floor game from Karlin were too much for the heavily-favored Eagles, and Garden City found themselves up by as many as 26 in the fourth quarter.

“Hopefully this gets us back on track,” Holloway said.

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Tye Davis fell a point shy of matching his season high with 12 points. Brunson scored all nine of his points from the line and Acosta netted all six of his in the second period.

Zack Leininger, who came off the bench after missing a practice during the Christmas break, tallied a team-high nine points for Hugoton, who were held to their lowest point total of the season. Mitchell Hamlin added eight and Carlos Montiel netted seven and nine boards.

Next up: Garden City vs. Great Bend-Friday, January 6-7:30 p.m. on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and mobile app: KWKR