By BRETT MARSHALL
Leave it up to Ulysses girls basketball coach Tim Hofferber to put Tuesday night's Garden City Lady Buffaloes and his Lady Tigers' game in perspective.
First, the second-year Ulysses coach said he would be happy to keep the game under 30 points as he brought his 3-7 team into The Garden to face the 7-3 Lady Buffs.
Then, afterward, he confessed that his team had performed better than anticipated, saying that the Lady Tigers had scared 'em a little.
Well, more than a little, at least from the viewpoint of GCHS coach David Upton.
The highly-favored Lady Buffs did win, 68-57, but it wasn't without its anxious moments.
The non-league game had all the appearances of a lopsided blowout just three minutes into the game as the Lady Buffs scored the first 11 points of the game, including three 3-pointers. By the end of the first quarter, Garden was rolling, owning a commanding 28-12 lead.
But then, something really, really strange happened.
"Our attacks to the rack and our transition offense were the big factors for us," Hofferber said after the game. "When we take it to the hole, good things happen."
In a game that saw 45 fouls called and 58 free throws attempted, it wasn't hard to see how the teams had difficulty getting into any kind of offensive rhythm.
"It's really hard to get in a groove when the game starts and stops so often," said Garden City senior guard Taryn Tempel, who led all scorers with 18 points, including going 3 for 3 from behind the arc. "You just have to fight through it. We were pushing the ball early, and then it seemed like we kind of backed off after that."
The Lady Buffs built the lead early in the second quarter to 17, 31-14, before the Lady Tigers made a game of it.
A 13-2 run from the 5:42 mark to 0:46 of the period drew the Lady Tigers to within six, 33-27. A 3-pointer by Kristen Padilla and a free throw by Jessica Carrillo just before halftime gave the Lady Buffs a double-digit lead of 37-27.
But Garden City was unable to sustain any long runs of its own in the final 16 minutes of action, seeing Ulysses close the gap once again to just four points at 39-35 with over six minutes left in the third period. The Lady Buffs made a mini-run of 9-0, with Tempel getting five of those and Breece Dreiling and Jaymie Bernbeck adding a basket each.
"We scared 'em a little," Hofferber said with a smile on his face. "He's (GCHS' Upton) got a great ball club and they're so athletic, that when they get things going, they're hard to defend."
The Lady Tigers hung close, and were still in it with 4:25 to play when Jessi Arnold canned a pair of free throws to make it 59-53. But the rest of the way, Garden City once again gave itself just enough breathing room, outscoring Ulysses 9-3 over the final three minutes, 52 seconds.
Morgan Price had a big game for the Lady Tigers, scoring 13 points, but pulling down 17 rebounds as the shorter Ulysses team won the board battle, 41-37. Arnold had high-point honors for the Lady Tigers with 14 points and Chisholm Branscum added 11, including hitting 9-of-10 free throws.
For the Lady Buffs, it was Tempel's 18 that led the way. Bernbeck finished with 12 points, while junior Breece Dreiling added 10 points. Dreiling had seven rebounds and Bernbeck six for the Lady Buffs. Bernbeck saw her streak of four games with a double-double come to an end.
"We just kind of muddled our way through," Upton said of the sloppy game that saw the teams combine for 45 turnovers (24 for Ulysses, 21 for Garden City). "We made plays when we had to. Give Ulysses credit. They did what we were asking our kids to do by going to the basket. We've got some things to work on."
Ulysses' girls (3-8) head to the Coffeyville Invitational, which begins on Thursday, while the Lady Buffs are idle until Jan. 30 when they open play at the Newton Tournament of Champions. The pairings for the TOC are expected to be announced today.
Ulysses 12 15 18 12 -- 57
Garden City 28 9 18 13 -- 68
Ulysses (3-8) — Pfingston 0-1 0-0 0, Gallegos 3-8 2-5 8, Price 6-17 1-4 13, Arnold 6-11 2-2 14, Branscum 1-9 9-10 11, Corral 2-7 2-2 6, Najera 1-3 0-0 3, Balderrama 0-1 0-0 0, Calderwood 0-1 2-2 2. Totals 19-58 18-25 57.
Garden City (8-3) — Padilla 2-8 0-0 6, Tornero 3-8 5-6 8, Brunson 1-4 0-0 2, Tempel 6-8 3-5 18, McKee 1-5 2-4 5, Dreiling 4-7 2-2 10, Bernbeck 4-10 4-10 12, Carrillo 2-2 3-6 7, Elliott 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-52 19-33 68.
3-point goals--Ulysses 1-10 (Gallegos 0-3, Price 0-3, Branscum 0-1, Corral 0-1, Najera 1-1, Balderrama 0-1), Garden City 7-16 (Padilla 2-5, Tornero 1-4, Brunson 0-1, Tempel 3-3, McKee 1-3). Rebounds--Ulysses 41 (Price 17), Garden City 37 (Dreiling 7). Turnovers--Ulysses 24, Garden City 21. Fouls--Ulysses 24, Garden City 21. Fouled out--Ulysses (Gallegos, Branscum, Corral). Technical fouls--Garden City (McKee).