By BRETT MARSHALL
WICHITA — When Garden City's Bo Banner drained a 3-pointer just seven seconds into the fourth quarter of Wednesday's first-round Class 6A state tournament game against Derby, the Buffaloes had nearly brought themselves back from the brink.
At that point, the Buffs were just two points behind the No. 4-seeded but heavily favored Panthers after trailing by as many as nine points in the first half.
But that was the last heroic moment for the Buffs, as the Panthers started knocking down their own threes — four straight in fact — to separate and make the end result a 55-46 Derby victory at Koch Arena.
It was as if the treys that had been missing from the Panther arsenal all night finally found their launching pad. And it blew up the Buffaloes' bid for an upset in their first trip to the state tournament since 2007.
"We'd done a good job in our 1-3-1 (zone) in the first half, that I thought we'd go back to it because they had been beating us on the dribble-drive," said GCHS coach Jacy Holloway. "We'd really hurt them with it in the first half, forcing them into turnovers so I thought it was the right move. It didn't work out, though."
When the 3-point barrage ended at the 4:42 mark, Derby owned a 46-36 lead, and the Buffs could never draw closer than six, that at 52-46 with 23 seconds remaining in the game.
"Turnovers just really hurt us so much tonight," a heartbroken Banner said outside the Buffs' locker room. "When we settled down and played, we were right there with them. Somehow, I think we felt we had to play better than we'd played all year. The reality is that if we'd play just the way we had been, we'd (have) been OK."
Derby had jumped out to a 16-10 first quarter lead, and then in a quarter that more resembled a Garden-Dodge City contest, only 12 points were scored between the two teams in the second period, Derby winning that one 8-4 to go in at the break up by seven, 24-17.
"We got a lot of good looks in the second quarter, but nothing, but nothing went down," Holloway bemoaned. "Then, we just didn't go to the boards (Derby won that battle, too, 33-22). We had nobody going in to try and get any rebounds, especially in that first half."
That seven point halftime lead was equaled four different times in the third quarter, but when Austin Terpstra nailed a 15-foot baseline jumper with 24 seconds left in the period, that made it 34-29 heading to the final eight minutes.
"To be honest, both teams came out a little nervous at the start," Holloway said. "That's not un-typical at a state tournament in the first game. We just didn't capitalize on the opportunities we had."
After seeing Taylor Schieber, who came in averaging just under 20 points a game, score seven points in the first quarter, the Buffs shadowed him better and held him scoreless over the next two periods.
But it was in the fourth that Schieber shined, just when the Buffs looked as though they were going to overtake the Panthers. The 5-9 guard nailed three of the Derby four treys, those coming at the 7:02, 6:05 and 5:30 marks.
"There were moments where we didn't do the things that you need to do down the stretch to win a game," Holloway said. "We've got a lot of kids coming back next year, and I hope they get hungry from this experience. You never want to go home early, but the kids worked hard all season. I couldn't be more proud of the effort they gave."
Banner finished with 17 points to cap off his career, while Terpstra added 14. Schieber was the lone double-figure scorer for Derby, but Tyler Chambers led the rebounding assault for the Panthers with 11, and Derby accounted for nine offensive boards to just three for the Buffs.
The Buffs finished a respectable 19-of-43 from the field (44.2 percent) and limited Derby to 15-of-36 overall shooting (41.7 percent). What they didn't do, though, is stop the three — 5-of-9 compared to Garden's 2-of-11 from behind the arc.
Derby now takes on No. 1-seeded Blue Valley Northwest at 4:45 p.m. Friday, which defeated Lawrence Free State 56-37 in the tourney opener.
Garden City 13 4 12 17 -- 46
Derby 16 8 10 21 -- 55
Garden City (15-8) — Delgado 0-4 0-0 0, Nanninga 3-6 0-0 6, Banner 6-11 4-4 17, Terpstra 6-12 1-2 14, Tramp 3-6 0-1 6, Riggs 0-0 0-0 0, Hernandez 0-1 0-0 0, Keller 1-1 0-1 2, Parr 0-2 1-2 1. Totals 19-43 6-10 46.
Derby (19-3) — Dunham 1-5 3-4 5, Conley 1-4 2-5 5, Schieber 6-10 4-4 20, Chambers 2-5 4-6 8, Ray 2-5 4-10 8, Rogers 0-0 2-2 2, Hunter 3-5 1-1 7, Osborn 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 15-36 20-32 55.
3-point goals--Garden City 2-11 (Delgado 0-3, Banner 1-4, Terpstra 1-3, Hernandez 0-1), Derby 5-9 (Conley 1-1, Schieber 4-5, Huntrer 0-2, Osborn 0-1). Rebounds--Garden City 22 (Tramp 7), Derby 33 (Chambers 11). Assists--Garden City 11 (Nanninga 5), Derby 8 (Conley 3). Turnovers--Garden City 19, Derby 20. Blocks--Garden City 2 (Delgado 1, Nanninga 1), Derby 0. Steals--Garden City 8 (Nanninga 3), Derby 11 (Conley 5). Fouls--Garden City 22, Derby 10. Fouled out--Garden City (Banner).