By BRETT MARSHALL
In Tuesday's non-league basketball game at The Garden, the Ulysses Tigers boys found themselves leading by one point, 7-6, with just over a minute left in the first quarter.
Most everything that Tiger coach Nathan Novack had asked of his team, they had done.
Not much of anything had gone as planned for Garden City's Jacy Holloway and his Buffaloes, at least on the offensive end of the court.
But then, the Buffs hit their stride with a quick five points to end that opening quarter.
Hunter Delgado drained a 3-pointer with 0:06 seconds left to end that brief run, but that was all it took for the momentum to go towards Garden City.
From that point forward, the Buffs outscored the Tigers 43-16 en route to a dominating 54-23 triumph.
"We started off well, but that's what we've done most of the season," said a downcast Novack afterward. "We executed well early, but then Garden got more pressure to us and things just unfolded from there. You've got to tip your hat to Garden. They extended their zone, and we didn't make much happen after that. They got in their transition and that just led to a lot of other things."
By halftime, the Buffs had extended their lead to 28-14, and for one of the few times all season kept the pedal to the metal, extending the lead for the remainder of the contest.
"We're starting to push the ball a lot more and that allows us to use our athleticism," said sophomore point guard Jared Koster, who had a perfect night shooting, connecting on 3-of-3 field goals and 2-of-2 free throws. "We're finding out how to play better as a team, and we've found out who plays together more. We substitute and we're more fresh, we're not as tired."
Tristan Nanninga led a balanced scoring attack with 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting, while Caleb Tramp also added double figures with 10 points and a team-high six rebounds. Seven other Buffs got into the scoring column as Holloway emptied his bench in the fourth quarter.
"I thought we did some really good things offensively," Holloway said. "Their 1-3-1 zone at the start was a little surprise, and it took us some time to figure out how to attack it. Once we did, I thought we took advantage of our personnel."
Holloway said he was especially pleased with the effort that the team gave, diving for loose balls, limiting turnovers to six while forcing Ulysses into 16 miscues.
"We flew around and got some steals, some transitions and run-outs, but we gave up a few easy shots, too," Holloway said. "The rotations we're using now seem to be working well. I might have been a little stubborn at the start of the season, but after watching film, I think we've found a good rotation. These guys go hard."
The Buffs limited Ulysses to a frigid 8-of-36 shooting from the field (22.2 percent), while scorching the nets themselves on 23-of-42 shots (54.7 percent). Neither team went to the free-throw line much. Ulysses connected on 7 of 9, while the Buffs were 6 of 8.
By the end of three quarters, Garden City had moved into a 46-20 lead and then both teams finished out with mostly reserves on the floor.
Ulysses got nine points from senior Nathan Medina, but the Tigers' sharpshooting guard, Tregg Rodriguez, was held to four points on 2-of-8 shooting and he only attempted one 3-pointer.
The Tigers did own a slender 26-24 edge on the boarfds as Medina plucked off five.
Both teams are idle until Tuesday when the Buffs travel to Holcomb for their intra-county rivalry match with the Longhorns. They are now 9-5 and have won four of their last five. Ulysses, meanwhile, hosts Colby in a Great West Activities Conference match-up.
Ulysses 7 7 6 3 -- 23
Garden City 11 17 18 8 -- 54
Ulysses (6-8) — Rodriguez 2-8 0-0 4, Walters 0-6 0-0 0, Nichols 2-4 0-0 4, Wiginton 1-3 0-0 2, Rudzik 0-3 0-00, Cantrell 1-3 1-1 3, Medina 2-5 5-6 9, Ballesteros 0-1 0-0 0, Erives 0-0 0-0 0, Banks 0-1 1-2 1, Romero 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 8-36 7-9 23.
Garden City (9-5) — Tramp 5-9 0-0 10, Delgado 3-8 0-0 7, Olivas 0-2 0-0 0, Koster 3-3 2-2 8, Hernandez 1-3 0-0 3, Nanninga 5-7 1-2 11, Zapata 2-2 0-0 4, Rodriguez 2-5 0-0 4, Parr 0-0 0-0 0, Love 1-2 3-3 5, Rincones 0-1 0-0 0, Gurrola 1-2 0-1 2, Acosta 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-42 6-8 54.
3-point goals--Ulysses 0-3 (Rodriguez 0-1, Walters 0-2), Garden City 2-6 (Delgado 1-1, Olivas 0-1, Hernandez 1-3, Nanninga 0-1). Rebounds--Ulysses 26 (Medina 5), Garden City 24 (Tramp 6). Turnovers--Ulysses 16, Garden City 6. Fouls--Ulysses 8, Garden City 10. Fouled out--none.