By BRETT MARSHALL
MAIZE — The Garden City High School girls basketball team had hoped that its 2014 season would end just a few miles and minutes down the road from Maize High School.
Koch Arena on the campus of Wichita State University is where the Class 6A state tournament is scheduled to begin on Thursday for the teams from the state's largest schools.
But thanks to a 62-38 victory by the Maize Lady Eagles, the Lady Buffs could only look on with consoling faces and a runner-up sub-state finish Friday night.
It brought an end to the careers of Taryn Tempel, Kennedy Brunson, Taylor Linenberger and Tionnia McKee, and showed promise with underclassmen Jaymie Bernbeck, Jessica Hinde, Jessica Carrillo, Breece Dreiling, Abbie Dart and Alexis Elliott all returning for next season.
The loss left the Lady Buffs with a 13-9 overall record, that also included a runner-up finish in the Western Athletic Conference, one year after capturing the WAC title and finishing 17-4.
This night, though, was all about what the Lady Eagles could and did do, while also about what the Lady Buffs couldn't get started, and couldn't finish.
And what the Lady Eagles did was storm to a commanding 22-6 first-quarter lead after the Lady Buffs had opened with a 6-5 advantage near the mid-point of the opening period.
"We couldn't buy anything there early," GCHS coach David Upton said. "We couldn't match what they brought early. After that, I thought we did a good job of doing what we wanted to do."
In fact, over the final 24 minutes, it was a 40-32 Maize advantage, and the fact the Buffs didn't throw in the towel was not lost on their head coach.
"There's no quit in these girls, that's something I'm very proud of with this group," said an emotional Upton afterward. "Maize is long and good. They've got kids who do a lot of things well. They handle their roles well. We just couldn't match them shot for shot."
By halftime, it was 30-10, and at the end of the third quarter it was 46-22. When the score reached 62-32 with a little more than a minute left, the automatic running clock started. The Lady Buffs ended on a 6-0 run, but it was too little and way too late.
McKee led the team in scoring with 11 points, while Bernbeck and Tempel, the team's leading scorers, were held in check with eight points each. Bernbeck had foul problems, while Tempel had taken only one shot before the fourth period when she hit a pair of 3-pointers.
Maize had a balanced attack with Saige Baalman scoring 13, Brianna Johnson 12 and Daley Handy with 11. Keiryn Swenson had nine rebounds for the Lady Eagles, and Breece Dreiling led Garden with eight boards.
The game started on an uptick for the Lady Buffs, leading 6-5 at the 4:28 mark of the first quarter.
From there, things went south in a hurry.
Maize scored the final 17 points of the quarter to take control and led 22-6 when the buzzer ended the first.
Things slowed in the second quarter for both teams, the Lady Eagles managing just eight points, while the Lady Buffs could only score four, and all of those came on free throws. By intermission, the Lady Buffs hadn't made a field goal since the 4:28 mark of the first when McKee scored on a driving layup.
That first half saw the Lady Buffs make just 3-of-22 field goals (13.6 percent). They had nine turnovers, and both Tempel and Bernbeck were in foul trouble. Tempel got her second at the 7:44 mark of the second and sat the rest of the quarter. Bernbeck got her third with 2:43 left before the break.
Maize, meanwhile, was 12 of 24, including 2 of 4 from 3-point range. Garden had nine turnovers and Maize seven when the second period came to a halt.
Maize will await its state tournament opponent when pairings are released on Sunday morning by the Kansas State High School Activities Association on its website at kshsaa.org.
Garden City 6 4 12 16 -- 38
Maize 22 8 16 16 -- 62
Garden City (13-9) — Linenberger 0-1 0-2 0, Hinde 0-0 0-0 0, Dart 1-8 2-4 4, Brunson 0-1 0-0 0, Tempel 2-3 2-4 8, McKee 4-10 3-8 11, Dreiling 2-4 3-4 7, Bernbeck 3-11 2-4 8, Carrillo 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 12-40 12-26 38.
Maize (18-4) — Swenson 3-5 3-7 9, McClure 0-2 0-1 0, Baalman 5-8 3-4 14, J. Handy 2-2 0-0 5, Holmes 2-5 0-0 4, Johnson 5-10 0-0 11, D. Handy 5-10 1-1 13, Byrd 2-4 1-2 5. Totals 24-46 8-15 62.
3-point goals--Garden City 2-6 (Dart 0-2, Brunson 0-1, Tempel 2-2, McKee 0-1), Maize 6-12 (Baalman 1-2, J. Handy 1-1, Holmes 0-2, Johnson 2-3, D. Handy 2-4). Rebounds--Garden City 32 (Dreiling 8), Maize 30 (Swenson 9). Turnovers--Garden City 19, Maize 18. Fouls--Garden City 17, Maize 22. Fouled out--Maize (Swenson). Technical fouls--none.