Two Lady Buffaloes leave basketball team
By BRETT MARSHALL
When the Garden City High School Lady Buffs took to the floor on Friday night at Hays High, they were without the services of two seniors — starting point guard Jacksenie Tornero, and shooting guard Kristen Padilla.
Those two veteran players quit the team on Wednesday, Lady Buffs' head coach David Upton confirmed to The Telegram on Friday morning.
"We had some things going on after our game Tuesday (a 44-43 loss at home to Dodge City), and I told the team, all of the girls, at practice on Wednesday, that they had to make a decision of whether or not they were with me and the team, or not," Upton said. "I put a line on the floor, and asked the players which side they were going to be on. Jacksenie went up and put her foot on the line, and I told her she couldn't be on the fence anymore. She then walked out. We can't have fence-riders. They need to be with their teammates if they're going to play."
Upton said Padilla made her choice to leave practice, and the team, a few minutes later.
"I'm not knocking the girls at all," Upton said. "They have the right to make those decisions. But if the chemistry isn't right, the team won't function."
Upton said it was probable that senior backup point guard Kennedy Brunson would replace Tornero in the starting lineup, and that freshman Abbie Dart, who has been getting more minutes and playing well of late, would see more minutes. Senior shooting guard Tonnia McKee also would likely see more minutes, Upton said. He also has junior Jessica Hinde who has played the guard position in a reserve role. Upton still has senior forward Taylor Linenberger on the roster, as she has been out recovering from a broken wrist sustained in December. There is a possibility she may be available for the postseason.
"We've just got to re-group and those players who haven't had a lot of minutes, will probably be getting some," Upton said. "I can tell you that we had a great practice on Thursday and there's a lot of enthusiasm today (at morning shoot-around). The chemistry right now says a lot. We've just got to right the ship and move on."
The Lady Buffs entered the Hays game with a 10-8 overall record and a 3-3 WAC mark. Prior to Friday's game, they had lost three consecutive games. They close out their regular season on Tuesday at Liberal and then await seeding placement for the March 5-7 Class 6A sub-state tournament.