By BRETT MARSHALL
No lead is too difficult to acquire, and no lead is too difficult to relinquish for the Garden City Lady Buffaloes basketball team.
Yet, somehow, they find a way to do enough to give coach David Upton gray hairs, and then in turn provide him with plenty to be encouraged with.
That's what they provided on Friday night with a roller-coaster 57-48 triumph over Denver South's Lady Rebels in the second night of the Clarion Inn Southwest Classic at the New Garden.
Now 3-1, the Lady Buffs will try to close out the Classic with a third win today at 5 p.m. when they host the Dumas, Texas, Lady Demons.
"We certainly don't make it easy on ourselves," Upton said afterward. "We've got to find a way where when have somebody down, we've gotta finish them off."
A 35-22 halftime bulge disappeared in the third quarter as the Lady Rebels narrowed the lead to 7, 40-33, and were up by nine, 45-36, heading to the fourth quarter.
"They came back on us there and the thing I can't fathom is that we talked about certain things and then they come out and do exactly the opposite," Upton said. "We just totally different than what we had just gone over."
The lead briefly moved to 50-36 when Jacksenie Tornero canned a 3-pointer and Taryn Tempel scored on a driving layup to start the final period. But six straight points by the Lady Rebels made it a game again, 50-42, with 5:34 still to play.
"We're the ones that let them get back in it, just made some crazy turnovers and stopped doing the things that we did well early," Upton said.
South (2-2) did get within six at 54-48 when Naudia Sweets hit a 3-pointer with 26 seconds left. Tionna McKee and Tempel finished off the game by cashing in 3-of-4 free throws.
Just as they had in Thursday's opening win over Wichita Trinity, the Lady Buffs got off to a sizzling start against the Lady Rebels.
It was 12-2 just five minutes into the game, as Bernbeck scored six of those points, and by the end of the opening stanza, the Lady Buffs were up 18-8 over the Rebels, who seemed out of sync against the GCHS defense which forced 10 turnovers by halftime.
"We executed nearly perfectly in the first six minutes of the game," Upton said. "We just didn't maintain that and finish it off."
The Lady Buffs built their lead to as many as 15 points, 27-12, at the 4:37 mark, on a pair of Bernbeck free throws. Then, South made a brief run by getting a pair of 3-pointers from Kendra Martin and Nasha Bile, sandwiched around two driving layups by Courtney Kindell after steals.
Once again, the Lady Buffs turned up the defensive pressure, made a couple of quick steals and finished out the first half on an 8-0 run, making it 35-22 at the break.
The Lady Buffs once again got balanced scoring with junior Taryn Tempel taking the lead with 17 points. Sophomore Jaymie Bernbeck added 14 and senior Johna McClelland chipped in with 11. South was paced by Kendra Martin's 16 while Naudia Sweets and Nasha Bile added 13 and 12 points, respectively.
Garden City owned the rebounding battle, 48-33, as Tempel finished with a double-double by grabbing 12 boards. The Lady Rebels got seven each from Sweets and Martin.
Denver South 8 14 14 12 -- 48
Garden City 18 17 10 12 -- 57
Denver South (48) — Bile 3-10 4-4 12, Moore 1-5 0-2 2, Luna 0-1 0-0 0, Giles 0-1 0-0 0, Kindell 1-4 1-2 3, Sweets 4-17 3-4 13, Martin 7-18 0-0 16. Totals 16-66 8-12 48.
Garden City (57) — McClelland 5-12 1-1 11, Padilla 0-1 0-0 0, Linenberger 0-4 0-0 0, Carillo 1-5 2-4 4, Tornero 1-3 2-2 5, Brunson 0-1 0-0 0, Tempel 4-11 9-12 17, McKee 1-5 4-4 6, Bernbeck 4-9 6-7 14. Toals 16-51 24-30 57.
3-point goals--South 6-16 (Bile 2-7, Moore 0-1, Sweets 2-4, Martin 2-4), Garden City 1-6 (Torner 1-3, Tempel 0-1, McKee 0-1, Bernbeck 0-1). Rebounds--South 33 (Sweets, Martin 7 each), Garden City 48 (Tempel 12). Turnovers--South 20, Garden City 21. Fouls--South 17, Garden City 9. Fouled out--none.