By BRETT MARSHALL
One night after holding the Pratt Greenbacks to just 27 points in a season-opeing 46-27 triumph, the Garden City Buffaloes ran into a buzz-saw at Pueblo, Colo. East, falling to the Eagles, 73-51.
A year ago in the Southwest Clarion Classic, East had held off the Buffs, 43-41, when Garden missed a last-second shot at tying the game.
This time, there were no last-second dramatics. The game was well in hand for the host Eagles by halftime as they outscored the Buffs 21-7 to take command, 35-20, at intermission.
"They're a really good team and they shoot the mid-range jumper about as well as any high school team I've seen in some time," GCHS coach Jacy Holloway said. "If you don't have a hand in their face, they're gonna knock it down. And they did."
After trailing just 14-13 at the end of the first, despite Austin Terpstra's two early fouls that put him on the bench for most of the rest of the first half, the Buffs then went ice-cold while the Eagles were red-hot.
The Buffs were still close near the mid-point of that second quarter, trailing 22-17, but then the Eagles finished off the half on a 13-2 run as they got a pair of 3-point buckets from Dylan Gavin and Ty Gavin.
"We just didn't seem to get ourselves in position on defense and many times we didn't get a hand up in their face," Holloway said. "It wasn't for lack of effort, I thought the kids played hard. We just need to play smarter and do the things we practice on."
Holloway bemoaned the fact that the Buffs also turned the ball over 20-plus times against the Eagles' defense.
"We've got to take better care of the ball, you can't give up that many possessions and expect to be in the game," Holloway said. "We missed a bunch of layups again, so that's an area that needs to get better."
Junior Tristan Nanninga was the bright spot for the Buffs' offense as he poured in a career-high 24 points, including three 3-pointers. He spread out his scoring with 7 points in the first, 8 in the third and 9 in the fourth.
"Tristan really looked to score and that's what we're going to need from everyone," Holloway said. "The balance that we're looking for I think will come."
The Buffs pulled to within nine points midway through the third at 37-28 and narrowed it to eight at 45-37 late in the third when Nanninga took a nifty inbounds pass from Evan Riggs to score. But Dylan Gavin and Ryan Amijo scored the final five points of the period to give the Eagles a 50-37 advantage heading to the fourth. Pueblo then went on a 13-4 run to put the game out of reach.
Going 1-1 in the opening weekend with both games on the road gave Holloway a chance to give plenty of his players court time, gaining valuable experience.
"I think we know a lot more about what the kids can do, and that will help," Holloway said. "We'd certainly like to have gone 2-0, but Pueblo will probably be one of the best teams we face all year long."
Pueblo Easst's balanced scoring was led by Dylan Gavin with 20 points, including three of his own treys. Jimmy Faldez and Ryan Amijo added 14 and 12 points, respectively.
The Buffs' next action will be at 7:45 p.m. Thursday on the opening night of the Southwest Clarion Classic at the New Garden. They will face Wichita Trinity before facing Denver South on Friday and Dumas, Texas, on Saturday to complete the three-game homestand.
Garden City 13 7 17 19 -- 51
Pueblo East 19 21 15 23 -- 73
Garden City (1-1) — Delgado 3 0-0 7, Riggs 1 0-0 2, Nanninga 10 1-2 24, Keller 0 1-2 1, Terpstra 4 0-0 8, Parr 2 0-0 5, Love 1 0-0 2, Tramp 1 0-0 2. Totals 22 2-4 51.
Pueblo East (1-0) — Jara 2 1-2 5, Gradisar 3 0-2 7, Amijo 6 0-0 12, D. Gavin 8 1-2 20, Eggert 3 2-3 8, T. Gavi 3 0-0 7, Valdez 6 2-3 14. Totals 31 6-10 73.
3-point goals--Garden City 5 (Delgado 1, Nanninga 3, Parr 1), Pueblo East 5 (Gradisar 1, D. Gavin 3, T. Gavin 1). Fouls--Garden City 13, Pueblo East 11.