By JASON ELMQUIST

jelmquist@gctelegram.com

It was nearly a moment reminiscent of David and Goliath on Monday at The Garden. The Class 4A Ulysses boys basketball team versus the Class 6A Garden City High School.

But in this instance, Goliath came out as the victor barely.

Garden City, after leading by as much as much as nine points in the second half, escaped with a 56-54 win. But at this point of the season, with sub-state beginning next week, any win is big no matter how a team gets it.

"That's the bottom line it's a win," GCHS coach Jeff Tanner said. "We didn't play well and I really didn't think we played smart at all."

With the Buffaloes (8-11) holding a 47-38 lead heading into the fourth quarter, the Tigers (11-8) opened the final period with a 10-0 run to take its first lead of the second half.

"It could have bounced either way, but I'm proud of how our kids played hard tonight especially off a really tough loss to Pratt (Friday)," Ulysses coach Jason Jones said. "Garden City went six minutes over the end of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth without a basket. It wasn't until the 2:54 mark, and the Buffs trailing by four, that GCHS got a bucket that coming from senior Chris Ruiz.

But it was the next basket that gave Garden City a jolt of life as Jake Curran, who sat much of the fourth quarter due to foul trouble, knocked down a 3-point shot with 1:12 remaining to give GCHS a 53-52 lead.

"That's pretty heady stuff for a sophomore to sit there as long as he had to with foul trouble and then when he's called upon to do something he does it," Tanner said.

Just 20 seconds later, Patrick Garcia scored his sixth point of the night to give the Buffs a 55-52 advantage. The Tigers (11-8) would get a pair of free throws from Braden Langston who went 6-of-8 from the charity stripe with seven seconds remaining to cut the lead to 55-54.

Garden City milked four seconds off the clock before Michael Guerrero was sent to the free throw line for a one-and-one. The senior guard made his first and missed the second. The rebound went down to the Tigers, but they were unable to get a desperation shot off before the buzzer.

"Everybody kind of spaced out there in the fourth quarter and it caught up to us," Ruiz said.

Garden City's surge in the third quarter, when the Buffs stretched a 28-26 halftime lead into a nine-point advantage, was led by Cody Bernbeck, who scored eight of his team-high 13 points in the third period.

Also coming up big for the Buffaloes was Ruiz, who finished with 12 points and six rebounds despite battling an illness commenting after the game that he felt like passing out during halftime.

"We've called him a warrior all season and he was sick tonight and he battled through it," Tanner said.

The Buffaloes will travel to Liberal tonight for their regular season finale which is set to tip off at 7:30 p.m. Ulysses hosts Holcomb in a non-league game tonight.

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Garden City 56, Ulysses 54

ULYSSES (11-8) Zerr 3 0-0 8, Moral 4 4-4 14, Jarnagin 1 1-3 4, Perez 0 0-0 0, Oliver 3 0-1 6, Langston 3 6-8 13, Kissell 1 4-5 6, Sullivan 1 1-2 3, Malone 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 16-23 54.

GARDEN CITY (8-11) Bernbeck 5 2-2 13, Guerrero 1 1-2 4, Garcia 3 0-0 6, Curran 4 0-0 10, C. Ruiz 4 4-8 12, Alexander 0 0-0 0, Holguin 0 1-2 1, Gomez 0 0-0 0, Q. Taylor 3 0-0 6, E. Ruiz 1 0-0 3, B. Taylor 0 1-2 1. Totals 21 9-16 56.

Ulysses 11 15 12 16 -- 54

Garden City 16 12 19 9 -- 56

3-point field goals Ulysses 5 (Zerr 2, Moral 2, Jarnagin 1); GCHS 5 (Curran 2, Bernbeck 1, Guerrero 1, E. Ruiz 1). Rebounds Ulysses 21 (Kissell 8, Jarnagin 6, Moral 3); GCHS 30 (C. Ruiz 6, Garcia 5, Holguin 5). Turnovers Ulysses 24, GCHS 20. Total fouls Ulysses 14, GCHS 19. Fouled out none.