GREAT BEND It would have been difficult to ignore the importance of Friday night's Western Athletic Conference showdown between the Garden City Lady Buffaloes and the host Great Bend Lady Panthers.

That's what you had with the top two teams in the WAC, with Garden City unbeaten at 4-0 at the halfway point of the league season, while Great Bend was just a game back at 3-1.

Friday night, though, belonged to the Lady Buffs, as they made quick work of the Panthers, pounding out a determined 63-49 victory at the Great Bend fieldhouse.

"I didn't expect that kind of start," said Lady Buffs' coach David Upton. "I'm proud of the way the girls came out and played. We know Great Bend always has a lot of fire and will come back. I think we kind of stunned them at the start."

The Lady Buffs put up the first eight points of the game and then closed out the first quarter on a red-hot 9-0 run to take command of the game from the outset, leading 20-4 at the quarter break.

A stifling defense was critical for Garden City as the Lady Buffs forced Great Bend into numerous turnovers, 13 in that opening stanza.

"I think we surprised them a little bit with our change of defense," Upton said of his team's 2-3 zone defense used for the entire first half. "They like to drive the ball, and we decided if they're gonna beat us, they'll beat us from the outside. It worked out for us."

The biggest margin for the Lady Buffs in the second was 18, 31-13, but Great Bend closed out the quarter on a mini 6-2 spree to make it 33-19 at intermission.

Taryn Tempel was the big offensive gun for the Lady Buffs in the first half, scoring 12 of her 16 points, including a pair of 3-pointers. Jaymie Bernbeck tallied eight before the break, finishing with 19. McClelland added 14 points.

Great Bend's never-give-up work ethic enabled them to make things just interesting enough, as 5-11 junior Morgan Harwood brought the Lady Panthers to within 11, 47-36, by the end of the third period.

Every time the Panthers made a run, the Lady Buffs answered with a fastbreak basket of their own.

"I wanted them to slow it down, but the girls told me that I had told them to answer anything Great Bend did, so that's what they did," Upton said. "Hays and Great Bend are two of the toughest places we play, and we've now won both places. It's a huge notch in our belt."

Now 14-3 overall and 5-0 in the WAC, next up for the Lady Buffs is a Tuesday trip to Dodge City for a 6 p.m. tipoff against the Lady Red Demons.


Garden City 20 13 14 16 -- 63

Great Bend 4 15 17 13 -- 49

Garden City (63) McClelland 7-11 0-0 14, Padilla 1-1 0-0 2, Linenberger 0-1 0-0 0, Carrillo 0-1 0-0 0, Tornero 4-6 0-0 9, Brunson 0-3 0-0 0, Tempel 6-9 2-4 16, McKee 1-4 1-1 3, Bernbeck 7-10 5-6 19. Totals 26-46 8-11 63.

Great Bend (49) Hildebrand 0-1 0-0 0, Kel. Doll 5-9 1-4 14, Spray 0-4 0-0 0, Unruh 1-4 0-0 2, Kay. Doll 0-6 2-2 2, Mauler 1-7 0-0 2, Stueder 3-10 2-4 10, Harwood 8-9 3-5 19. Totals 18-50 8-15 49.

3-point goals--Garden City 3-6 (Tornero 1-3, Brunson 0-1, Tempel 2-2), Great Bend 5-24 (Kel. Doll 3-6, Spray 0-4, Unruh 0-3, Kay. Doll 0-2, Mauler 0-5, Stueder 2-4). Rebounds--Garden City 31 (Tempel 7), Great Bend 29 (Harwood 8). Turnovers--Garden City 21, Great Bend 23. Fouls--Garden City 13, Great Bend 11. Fouled out--none.