By BRETT MARSHALL
For one of the few times this season, the Garden City Buffaloes boys basketball team found a way to finish off a game in the fourth quarter.
The Buffs had watched a fourth-quarter lead disappear in Thursday's tournament opener, resulting in a 46-45 loss to Valley Center.
But the Buffs' 17-4 surge in the final eight minutes on Friday in the consolation bracket of the Valley Center January Jam provided a 57-43 victory over Kansas City Turner at the Hornets' Gymnasium.
Friday's triumph lifts the Buffs to a 7-5 season record, and they now will face Topeka Seaman today at 3:45 p.m. for fifth place. Turner, meanwhile, slips to 1-8 and faces Junction City for seventh place at 2 p.m.
The Buffs have struggled to put together complete four-quarter games during the roller-coaster season, and Friday was no exception.
In this case, though, the struggles came early. Turner took a 15-7 lead after the first quarter, and coach Jacy Holloway once again was looking for something to generate some momentum.
"Even before the first quarter was over, I had some concerns," Holloway said in a telephone interview. "We were just lackadaisacal with passes, defensive stances and we looked like we weren't real concerned."
From that point forward, however, the Buffs turned up the pace of the game, and that seemed to ignite the team.
"We got more into an up-tempo and that's where we are more comfortable," Holloway said. "But to do that, you have to get defensive stops and rebounds and we finally were able to do that."
Senior guard Tristan Nanninga was the sparkplug of the second quarter rally in which the Buffs outscored the Golden Bears 19-7 to take a 26-22 lead into halftime.
"Tristan works his best when he gets into that open floor situation," Holloway said of Nanninga, who scored 10 of his team-high 13 points in the first half. "He got us some energy."
In the third quarter, the Buffs increased their lead to five at 38-33, but the Bears went on a 7-0 run to take a one-point lead with six seconds left. But Jared Koster hit a floater from inside the paint just before the buzzer, providing the Buffs with a 40-39 lead heading to the final quarter.
The game was still up for grabs at the 4:56 mark when Caleb Tramp hit the first of two free throws for a 45-41 Garden City lead. The Buffs forced a Turner turnover and on their next trip down the floor, Mitchell Hernandez hit a clutch 3-pointer to put them up 48-41 with 4:05 left. Turner got a follow shot from Andre Jackson at the 3:02 mark, but that would be the final points for the Bears.
Down the stretch, the Buffs got two buckets from Tramp, who finished with 11 points, seven of those coming in the final half, and knocked down 6-of-9 free throws.
"I think one of the big things in the fourth was that they undertstood what we were doing on defense, and we made them shoot tougher shots, and we got rebounds."
The Buffs had one of their best shooting nights, connecting on 23-of-43 field goals for 53.4 percent.
"We got good shots, for the most part, but we still missed some layups, some bunnies, so I know we can even be better," Holloway said. "I felt like we still turned the ball over too many times (13), but overall I thought the effort was good."
Holloway also was pleased with the fact that 10 players cracked the scoring column, with Koster joining Nanninga and Tramp in double figures with 10 points.
Following today's final game of the Jam, the Buffs will return home for a 7 p.m. Tuesday game against Ulysses at The Garden.
KC Turner 15 7 17 4 -- 43 Garden City 7 19 14 17 -- 57
KC Turner (1-8) — Green 1 0-0 2, Miller 3 1-1 7, Guess 5 1-1 13, Jackson 4 1-1 9, Reed 2 0-0 4, Berry 3 2-2 8. Totals 18 3-3 43.
Garden City (7-5) — Tramp 5 1-2 11, Delgado 1 2-2 4, Olivas 1 0-0 3, Koster 4 1-1 10, Hernandez 2 0-2 5, Nanninga 6 3-6 15, Rodriguez 1 0-0 2, Parr 1 1-2 3, Love 1 0-0 2, Rincones 1 0-0 2. Totals 23 8-15 57.
3-point goals--KC Turner 2-11 (Guess 2), Garden City 3-9 (Olivas 1, Koster 1, Hernandez 1). Fouls--K.C. Turner 13, Garden City 9. Fouled out--none.