By BRETT MARSHALL
It must have seemed like there was a lid on the basket for the Garden City Buffaloes boys basketball team on Friday night at The Garden.
That's what it felt like as the Buffs missed shot after shot, had half a dozen shots blocked by 6-foot-7 Ibrahim Sylla, and couldn't buy a free throw when it counted most.
The result was a disappointing 62-52 setback at the hands of Denver South in the middle game of the three-game Clarion Inn Southwest Classic.
The telling story, though, was the number of baseline drive layups and alley-oops to Sylla that eventually proved the undoing of the Buffs.
That, and the fact that South went to the free throw line 27 times, cashing in 21 charities, while the Buffs only attempted 12, and struggled there all night, hitting only five.
"You gotta make shots when you're wide open, and you have to be prepared for the type of opponent you're gonna be playing," GCHS coach Jacy Holloway said afterward. "He (Sylla) blocks a couple of shots early, and then we don't take care of the ball. We got a little tentative."
Holloway was also dismayed at the way his team played defense, or in this case, didn't play defense during the game. The Rebels were a solid 19 of 41 from the field, and seemingly came up with big shots every time the Buffs made a run at them.
But playing from behind isn't exactly what Holloway had drawn up in the game plan.
In a low-scoring start, South led 10-9 at the end of one quarter after the Buffs jumped out to a 7-0 lead on two quick Caleb Tramp buckets, one of which was a slam dunk off a steal, and a 3-pointer by Hunter Delgado.
That lead was short-lived, however. The last time the Buffs held the lead was 9-7 with 21 seconds left in that first quarter. From there, it was playing catch-up the rest of the way.
"I thought we did some things decent when we ran our sets," Holloway said. "When we did that, we got the shots we wanted. Not always the best shot, but good looks."
Turnovers also proved costly down the stretch, as the Buffs were guilty of five of their 15 miscues in the final period.
"We made runs at them but then we'd get a turnover, so if you can't sustain anything without keeping hold of the ball, it makes it pretty tough," Holloway said. "I couldn't find anything one thing that I thought we did well throughout the game. We just didn't have any consistency."
If there was any bright spot for the Buffs, it was junior Caleb Tramp, who played his best game of the young season by scoring 21 points, tying South's Sylla for game-high honors, on 10-of-17 shots and he grabbed nine rebounds. Sylla topped the rebounding effort for the Rebels with 10 boards.
"It's a step backward for us," Holloway said. "We played really bad individual defense and we played equally bad helpside defense. In addition to that, we need to have players out there to have an understanding of our system, and the way we expect them to play. We didn't get that tonight."
In addition to Sylla's 21 points, the Rebels got 12 points from Tyson Purifoy and 11 points from Lorenzo Snoddy. The Buffs also got 11 points from guard Mitchell Hernandez, whose six points in the final quarter kept the Buffs within striking distance, but he didn't get much help from anybody else.
The Buffs, now 3-2, will close out the Classic today with a 5:45 p.m. contest against Pueblo (Colo.) East at The Garden. It will be their final game of the pre-holiday schedule.
Denver South 10 27 8 17 -- 62
Garden City 9 17 14 12 -- 52
Denver South (62) — Purifoy 4-10 2-4 12, Garcia 1-4 4-5 7, Sylla 7-11 7-9 21, Wariner 0-0 2-2 2, Dumas-Peterson 4-7 1-2 9, Snoddy 3-8 5-5 11, Moore 0-1 0-0. Totals 19-41 21-27 62.
Garden City (52) — Delgado 3-13 1-3 8, Koster 1-6 0-1 2, Hernandez 4-9 1-2 11, Nanninga 3-9 1-2 7, Parr 0-2 1-2 1, Love 0-0 0-0 0, Tramp 10-17 1-2 21, Rodriguez 1-5 0-0 2. Totals 22-51 5-12 52.
3-point goals--Denver South 3-8 (Purifoy 2-4, Garcia 1-3, Snoddy 0-1), Garden City 3-13 (Delgado 1-5, Koster 0-1, Hernandez 2-5, Nanninga 0-2). Rebounds--South 32 (Sylla 10), GardenCity 37 (Tramp 9). Turnovers--South 17, Garden City 15. Fouls--South 16, Garden City 20. Fouled out--South (Purifoy).