By BRETT MARSHALL
HOLCOMB — When the Garden City Lady Buffaloes walked off the court at Holcomb High School at halftime of Saturday night's ArkRiver Rivalry game, they were in possession of a 23-19 lead over the Lady Longhorns.
Having won the previous two meetings over Holcomb, Garden City had won the rebounding battle and managed to keep the 3-point shooting exploits of the Lady Longhorns in check.
And that's just exactly what had transpired in the first 16 minutes of the third meeting of the Finney County schools.
But then things went south for the Lady Buffs in their defense of the 3-point arc.
After limiting the Lady Longhorns to just 1-for-8 shooting from behind the arc, it was a different story, and a deadly one at that for the Lady Buffs, as the home team heated up and made 5 of 10 3-pointers that provided a big role in the Lady Longhorns' 51-48 triumph.
"We did a great job of defending their 3s in the first half," Upton said afterward. "In the second half, they made some adjustments that worked for them."
Kylee Amos made the lone trey for Holcomb in the first half, added one more in the third quarter and then watched as teammates Molly Harrington (1), Haley Heydman (2) and Taylor Deniston (1) knocked down the valued 3-pointer.
In fact, it was the long bombs that propelled the Lady Longhorns from a 29-25 deficit with 1:55 to play in the third into a 34-29 lead just one minute, 26 seconds later, allowing them to grab a 34-32 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Heydman and Deniston would knock down their final 3s a minute apart in the fourth quarter and that would be it from long range.
But the damage had been done with the rain of treys.
"We had some things not go exactly right down the stretch," Upton said. "But I thought the girls showed a lot of toughness. If we play with that kind of emotion the rest of the season, we'll have a good chance in sub-state."
And despite losing to Holcomb for the first time in the three meetings, Upton said he enjoyed the environment and the quality of competition.
"Holcomb's got an excellent team, and playing them, along with the other teams we've seen this season, it will prepare us for sub-state," Upton said. "This was fun basketball. Nobody wants to lose this kind of game, but we'll take some positives out of this and get ready for this coming week."
That will turn around quickly as the Lady Buffs host rival Dodge City at 6 p.m. Tuesday at The Garden in a Western Athletic Conference matchup. Holcomb, too, has a quick turnaround as the Lady Longhorns host Scott City at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in a Great West Activities Confernce contest.