Great Bend, KS (WesternKansasNews.com) – What a night for an opener in Great Bend for Garden City. It had been nearly 20 days since both the Lady Buffs and Buffaloes had played a game and they came into a loud hostile environment to pull out two wins to start 2023.
Lady Buffs 54 (4-4) (1-0) WAC | Lady Panthers 47 (4-3) (0-1) WAC
Garden City came into the game on a 3 game losing streak including a stretch in which their last 4 games had all come down to one possession. Amaya Gallegos and KJ Pinchon ensured that wouldn’t be the case for Garden City. Both girls finished in double figures with Gallegos leading the team with 16 points and Pinchon finishing with 12.
Great Bend would hang around as Sadie Spray would launch 3-pointer after 3-pointer late to keep Great Bend in the game but it wouldn’t be enough as this Lady Buff squad has begun to learn how to win games late.
“It’s awesome when we are able to make the trip north to open up the conference season and come in here and play like that,” said head coach Jacob Miller after Garden City picked up their 4th win of the year surpassing their whole win total from last season. “We have talked so much about what we needed to do and how we needed to do it and I feel like that all came together tonight,” added Miller.
Garden City also got a great defensive effort from senior Mackenzie Lucas who had the task of guarding Emilee Hall, Great Bend’s second-leading scorer behind Spray. “She did a great job (Lucas) we came into the game with the plan to play straight up and wall them down low, that really worked well for us tonight.” Miller finished the postgame interview.
Garden City 58 (8-0) (1-0) WAC | Great Bend 55 (3-4) (0-1)
After Garden City finished the first semester 7-0 it wouldn’t be long before the state started to take notice. After all, Garden City was 7-0 for the first time since 1967 and they were ranked 9th in 6A by KCBA right before winter break. The point is they were going to have a target on them moving forward, especially in conference play. Great Bend came out hot shooting the three as they had their crowd fired up in tune to four 1st quarter 3-pointers. That hot shooting would lead to an 18-12 lead for Great Bend at the end of the 1st.
Then in the 2nd quarter, Garden City’s bigs started to take charge of the game. Kolten Davis, Jake Underwood, and Caleb Wiese would all finish the game in double figures and they helped Garden City get back to even in the 2nd quarter. The point totals would flip making it 30-30 at halftime. So far through the game the Buffs would tie the game 4 times but hadn’t had a lead yet.
That didn’t last very long as the Buffs rolled into the 3rd quarter poised as they have so many times already this season. It wouldn’t take by 19 seconds into the quarter before Garden City would grab the lead and hang on to it the rest of the game.
“At that moment it gave us the confidence to push through, it was a short conversation at half-time but we knew what we needed to do.” Said head coach Jeff Williamson.
Just when Garden City would take the lead the Panthers would not go away and even had a chance to tie the game to head to OT on the final shot. After Jace Steinmetz who finished with a team-high 15 points would split a pair of free throws to give Garden City a 3-point lead with just seconds left in the game. Ian Premer would rush up the court and heave a long 3-point attempt that went halfway in the cup and popped out. The Buff survived and moved to 8-0 on the year. The more important thing though is they grabbed their first conference win to start WAC play.
“We have to take care of the conference and while it’s nice to win by a lot it’s also nice to have these games because you can learn a lot about your team and I’m so proud of the way the guys responded tonight,” Williamson added about the win.
Garden City is back in action on Tuesday with another WAC doubleheader at home vs. Liberal. The coverage will start at 5:40 pm on 99.9 “The Rock” with the tipoff of the girl’s game at 6 pm.