By JASON ELMQUIST
It was the smaller, Class 4A Ulysses that came out swinging on Tuesday night in a match up against Garden City High School. Though the Lady Buffaloes were reeling early, they were winning late and that's all that mattered as GCHS downed the Lady Tigers 51-38 at The Garden.
"I'm a little disappointed," GCHS coach David Upton said. "This was a statement game for us. We should have come out and really dominated this game from start to finish and we didn't. So it's kind of disappointing."
Ulysses jumped out to a 7-1 lead late into the first quarter as Garden City didn't get its first basket until senior point guard Syd Sassaman hit a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left in the period to spark an 11-3 run expanding into the second quarter.
During the run, Sassaman hit another 3-pointer — as she finished the game with three 3-point field goals en route to a game-high 15 points. Also knocking down a shot from 3-point range was Kristen Heiman, who knocked down another one late in the quarter as she went on to score a season-high 11 points.
"We finally just got fired up and starting giving better effort out there and stopped turning the ball over — which was one of the biggest things tonight," Sassaman said. "I yelled at the girls about taking care of the ball and got in a couple of people's faces because if we don't take care of the ball, that type of stuff is going to happen."
The fast tempo of both teams' offense led to a multitude of mistakes as both teams finished the game with over 20 turnovers — Garden City with 23 and Ulysses with 25.
"When they went to their man press, that was the toughest man press we've seen since probably Southwestern Heights," Ulysses coach Eric Flaton said. "They got after people really well and our guards, especially at the beginning of the second half, freaked out a little bit and couldn't handle it."
Also getting things going in the second half was Garden City's 6-foot-2 senior Carly Schmale. Going up against Ulysses sophomore Kaylea Britton, listed at 6-0, Schmale was held to just one point in the opening half. But then the senior went off for nine points in the second half to finish with 10 points and hauled down four of her five rebounds in the final two quarters.
"One of the last things I said coming out of the locker room at halftime, I looked at Carly and asked her how much she wanted to play in the second half," Upton said. "She said she wanted to play the whole second half, and I said 'If I see you loafing again, you won't.' I said, 'You're stat line does not look very good right now,' so she came out and played a little more inspired in the second half."
The Garden City girls are off until Jan. 28 when they travel to Newton for a three-day tournament. During that time off, Upton said he plans to work on his team's attitude on the court, something he felt was lacking against Ulysses.
"We're going to work on our motto: 'Heart and hustle,'" Upton said. "This team needs to learn that to be a championship team, there are things a championship team has to do and respond to.."
The Lady Tigers will also have a week off before returning to the court when they participate in the three-day Haven Invitational.
Garden City 51, Ulysses 38
Ulysses (5-5) — Meierhoff 1 0-0 2, Jarnagin 1 2-3 4, McCauley 3 1-1 9, Anthony 1 1-1 3, Britton 2 2-2 7, Spencer 2 0-2 4, Rodriguez 2 0-0 4, Monzon 1 0-0 3, Shilling 0 2-2 2. Totals — 13 8-11 38.
Garden City (5-4) — Heitschmidt 1 2-2 4, Gonzales 2 1-2 6, Sassaman 5 2-3 15, Martinez 1 0-0 2, Schmale 4 2-3 10, Curran 0 2-2 2, Heiman 4 1-2 11, Garcia 0 1-2 1. Totals — 17 11-16 51.
Tigers 7 11 7 13 -- 38
Buffaloes 4 18 15 14 -- 51
3-point field goals — Ulysses 4 (McCauley 2, Britton 1, Monzon 1); GCHS 6 (Sassaman 3, Heiman 2, Gonzales 1). Rebounds — Ulysses 30 (Anthony 5, Britton 5); GCHS (Curran 9, Gonzales 7, Schmale 5). Turnovers — Ulysses 25, GCHS 23. Total fouls — Ulysses 16, GCHS 13. Fouled out — none. Technical fouls — Ulysses bench.