By BRETT MARSHALL
When the Garden City Buffaloes came out in the first quarter of Thursday's first-round Valley Center January Jam game against the host Hornets, they looked nothing like the team that had struggled scoring in their previous four outings.
An 18-11 lead eventually peaked at 29-18 into the latter stages of the second quarter, but all of that was short-lived as the Buffs squandered a golden opportunity, eventually falling to the Hornets, 46-45.
It was a tough way to begin play in the three-day Jam, and the loss dropped the Buffs' season record to 6-5, while Valley Center improves to 4-5. Garden will now drop into the consolation bracket and face Kansas City Turner at 5 p.m. today. Valley Center will take on top-seeded Wichita Southeast, a 90-73 winner earlier over Turner.
In that red-hot first quarter, the Buffs were 7-of-8 shooting, eventually cooled off to a respectable 50 percent for the game, but somehow went ice cold again in the final half, scoring just 14 points, including only four in the fourth quarter.
"Once again, we're missing layups, bunnies, and then we got down on ourselves, and went down and didn't play as good on the defensive end," Buffs' head coach Jacy Holloway said. "You start feeling sorry for yourself, and it affects what goes on out on the floor."
There were other reasons for the Hornets' rally, the biggest of which came from six 3-pointers while the Buffs had just one trey.
"There were times we just didn't defend as well as we needed to, and other times I thought our defense had done a good job on them," Holloway said, referring to the fact that the Hornets scored only 18 points in the second half. "The big thing is the number of shots (40 for Valley Center, 28 for Garden City)."
Turnovers also proved costly for the Buffs, as they committed 19 miscues to only nine for the Hornets.
"Turnovers and free-throw shooting were things that really hurt," Holloway said as the Buffs finished just 14 of 23 at the charity stripe. "Until we start doing the little things, it will be a struggle out there."
A 12-4 run for Valley Center to close out the second quarter enabled the Hornets to cut that 11-point hole to just three by intermission at 31-28.
And while the Buffs could never really put the Hornets away, Valley Center never led in the game until the 3:16 mark of the fourth quarter when Blake Crager made 1-of-2 free throws for a 44-43 lead. Caleb Tramp, who had 12 points but only two in the second half, scored the Buffs' lone field goal in the fourth quarter with 2:52 remaining to put the Buffs back on top, 45-44. That would be it, though, for points.
The game-winning points came from Braden Janzen, who made a spinning low post move on the left side and banked it in with his left hand with 10 seconds remaining. Garden's final trip down the floor ended in disaster as Tristan Nanninga, who came off the bench to score a team-high 13 points, was guilty of an offensive foul in the lane with three seconds to play. Valley Center inbounded the ball and the clock ran out.
Valley Center got 16 points from Jacob Brittain as he was the lone double-figure scorer for the Hornets.
In earlier first-round games Thursday, it was Blue Valley-Northwest rolling past Topeka Seaman, 74-47, and Olathe Northwest toppling Junction City, 48-34, in the lower half of the bracket.
Today's schedule: 3:15 p.m., Consolation, Topeka Seaman vs. Junction City; 5 p.m., Consolation, Kansas City-Turner vs. Garden City; 6:45 p.m., Semifinal, Blue Valley-Northwest vs. Olathe Northwest; 8:30 p.m., Wichita Southeast vs. Valley Center.
Garden City 18 13 10 4 -- 45
Valley Center 11 17 10 8 -- 46
Garden City (6-5) — Tramp 5 2-5 12, Delgado 2 0-0 4, Koster 1 2-2 4, Hernandez 1 3-4 5, Nanninga 5 2-5 13, Rodriguez 1 2-2 4, Parr 0 3-4 3, Rincones 0 0-1 0. Totals 15 14-23 45.
Valley Center (4-5) — Brittain 5 4-6 16, Brown 2 1-2 6, Barbour 2 2-2 8, Johnston 4 0-0 9, Crager 1 1-4 3, Janzen 2 0-0 4. Totals 16 8-14 46.
3-point goals--Garden City 1 (Nanninga), Valley Center 6 (Brittain 2, Brown 1, Barbour 2, Johnston 1). Turnovers--Garden City 19, Valley Center 9. Fouls--Garden City 16, Valley Center 17. Fouled out--none.