May 27, 2024

Kinney’s Stellar Night Not Enough for Buffaloes at Dodge City

DODGE CITY, Kan. – The Buffaloes found a new leading scorer in Tuesday’s game. Junior forward Maliek Kinney flashed for GCHS off the bench, delivering timely shots inside in the first half. 

His previous career-high was eight points, back on November 30th, 2023, against Coronado. The junior had nine points at halftime, and would only get better as the game went on.

The Garden City Buffaloes were defeated by the Dodge City Red Demons, 54-45, at The Fieldhouse. The effort, however, that Kinney displayed, was exactly what Buffaloes’ head coach Luke Swedberg has been looking for his players in his first season.

“I thought Maleik did a good job of staying patient and staying ready to shoot the basketball,” Swedberg praised. “We want to be a team that’s kind of free-flowing… and Maleik’s a big part of that.”

Where the forward really impressed was his three-point shot. Kinney did not attempt a three-pointer throughout the first eight games of the campaign, he entered Tuesday’s game just one-of-two on three point attempts this season.

Kinney was four-of-eight against Dodge City from beyond the arch, setting a new career-best with 18 points.

“It’s continual work that we put in practice to want to shoot the basketball,” Swedberg explained. “Maliek’s done a great job of staying after it.”

The Buffaloes executed really well in the first half. Garden City opened the game on an 8-2 run, with Emilio Zundt splashing home two three pointers in the first quarter. The Buffaloes  (4-8, 1-2 WAC) would jump out to a 17-11 lead after one, recording nine assists on their first 11 field goals.

“I thought we did a good job in the first half, especially on the defensive end of the floor, to crowd things up, to keep the ball out of [Tochi Okoro]’s hands… I thought that led to some great buckets for us in the first half.” Swedberg said.

Dodge City executed on similar mistakes in the early stages to bring the game back within one possession. The Red Demons scored 17 of their 28 first-half points off turnovers, while junior guard Jaiden Springer recorded six of his eight first-half points off Garden City turnovers.

Dodge City (7-6, 2-0 WAC)had four different players that could score at a high level. Springer finished with 14 points while Okoro scored 12 (six in each half), but it was two streaky scorers who made big differences.

Junior Anthony Perez caught fire from beyond the arch in the second half, scoring nine of his 11 points from beyond the arch. Sophomore Ty Scheck also hit two crucial threes in the game, including a late left wing splash just before the third quarter horn, capping off a 15-6 quarter to put Dodge City ahead, 43-35.

The fourth quarter was even with DCHS narrowly winning it, 11-0.

Tuesday’s game was the best of both worlds for Garden City. They played free, faster, and shot the ball better at all three levels than their opponents.

Dodge City took 15 more field goal attempts than Garden City, which gave way in the latter half of another pulsating Western Athletic Conference matchup.

“Sometimes the basketball can get stuck a little bit, and that’s not where we’re good,” Swedberg said. “We’re good when that ball is able to snap around the perimeter, multiple guys touch it, we get a paint touch here and there, and we play inside and out.”

Garden City has now lost its last four games, dating back to January 12th.

The Buffaloes return to The Garden on Thursday to face the Laverne (Ok.) Tigers. The game will be broadcasted on 99.9 ‘The Rock’ immediately after girl’s basketball, tipping off at 6:00 P.M.

Audio Recap

Luke Swedberg interview