By BRETT MARSHALL
When the second Clarion Inn Southwest Classic tips off on Thursday, the event will have a new look, a new feel and new teams.
A year ago, when the Classic made its debut with Garden City and Holcomb high schools serving as co-hosts, Del City (Okla.) and Pueblo East (Colo.) provided the opening two night opponents for the Buffaloes and Longhorns at each of the local schools.
For Garden City High School's teams, Thursday will provide the first basketball games to be played at the New Garden.
On Saturday's final day in the 2011 inaugural Classic, Garden City and Holcomb met in the late games for girls and boys in what was the first meeting of the two Finney County schools. The Garden City girls won a thrilling overtime game by a single point while the Buffaloes' boys defeated the Longhorns by a 41-28 count.
Now, with Scott City joining in as one of the host schools, the three "away" schools feature Denver South, Wichita Trinity and Dumas, Texas.
Due to scheduling issues, at least for 2012, all three local host teams will play each of the three games on their home floors. Girls games on Thursday and Friday will begin at 6 p.m. at each venue, with boys games to follow at approximately 8 o'clock. Saturday's tip-offs will be at 5 and 7 p.m.
Garden City and Holcomb's teams opened the season on Friday with the Buffaloes boys beating Pratt (46-27) and the Lady Buffs falling to the Greenbacks 50-46. The teams then traveled to Pueblo on Saturday to face East High, where the Lady Buffs rolled to a 72-57 victory and the Buffs' boys fell, 73-51. Each team will bring a 1-1 mark into the Classic.
Garden City coach Jacy Holloway saw senior Austin Terpstra lead the way on Friday with 16 points, and the Buffs used a stingy defense against the Greenbacks to win going away. Saturday, the defense disappeared against a hot-shooting Pueblo Eagles team, with GCHS falling behind early and never able to recover. Tristan Nanninga had a career-high 24 points for the Buffs in the setback.
Holcomb's girls, preseason ranked No. 1 in The Telegram's poll, rolled past Liberal, 73-52, in its Friday opener as did the Longhorn boys, 65-47.
Senior guard Tyler LaSalle paced the Longhorns with 20 points, while Jeremy Cox and Shane Bennett contributed 16 and 10 points to the lopsided win.
"All of our seniors did a good job stepping up," second-year coach Chad Novack said. "Tyler did a great job when he had the ball in his hands and Cox did a great job when he came in."
Scott City, meanwhile, elected to postpone its season openers to this year's Classic due in part to football playoffs, where the Beavers won the 3A state title on Thanksgiving weekend. So when the Beaver boys, the two-time defending 3A state champions, take the floor at home on Thursday night, it will be their first test against an unbeaten 3-0 Denver South team. The Lady Beavers will be under the coaching reins of newcomer Lori Oestreicher.
The Beaver boys are loaded once again with four starters returning, including co-Telegram Players of the Year in 6-4 forward Drew Kite and 6-1 guard Brett O'Neil. The Beavers also return 6-3 senior forward Joey Meyer, 6-1 senior Tyler Hess, and 6-2 sophomore Trey O'Neil, who saw part-time starting duties last season. Throw in super-subs Austin Habiger and Anthony Wilson, and depth will be a strong point for coach Glenn O'Neil.
"If we stay focused on the things we emphasize, and do all those little things that contribute to success, we have a chance to have a nice team again," O'Neil said.
For basketball fans who want to see a little variety, they can split up their viewing on any of the three nights of the Classic.
"We're excited to bring quality teams from away to southwest Kansas for three days of basketball," said GCHS athletic director Martin Segovia, the driving force behind the Classic. "Fans will get to see a lot of good basketball and I know all three schools are happy to have three home games for their local following."
Denver South is a Class 4A school and on the boys side, the Rebels are led by 6-5 wing player Mark Dean, who is averaging 21.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and three steals per game. They own wins over Faith Christian (78-43), Rocky Mountain (50-37) and Fossil Ridge (65-56).
Earl Chavez, a 6-1 senior guard, averages 11 points while Ibrahim Sylia (6-6 forward) and Lorenzo Snoddy (6-2 guard) average 8.7 and eight points an outing. Tyson Purifoy, a 6-2 guard, averages 7 points.
Trinity Academy's boys are 1-0 after a 58-47 opening win over Garden Plain on Friday. The private academy is a Class 4A school and a member of the Central Plains League.
Dumas' boys will bring a 2-5 season record into the Classic as the Demons started their season a couple weeks earlier than Kansas. Trace Sheldon, a 6-4 senior post, and Jordan Hutcherson, a 6-2 senior guard/forward, are among the top players for the Demons, a Class 4A school.
The Demons own wins over an all-Texas schedule, including Pampa (48-44) and Irvin (58-45) while losses have come against Perryton (70-51), Dalhart (67-59), Cooper (42-41), Odessa (46-37) and El Dorado (49-32). A veteran squad, the Demons also feature seniors 6-3 forward Rylan Gerber; 6-2 forward Dylan Jones; and 6-0 guard Josh Diaz.
On the girls side, Denver South is 1-0, owning a 71-26 triumph over Niwot, Colo.
In that game, junior Naudia Sweets (5-6 guard) and Nyaching Bile (5-9 senior guard) paced the Lady Rebels with 22 and 20 points, respectively. The balanced scoring included 15 points from 5-8 forward Kendra Martin and 5-4 junior guard Courtney Kendall. The Lady Rebels were slated to play Evergreen on Tuesday night before traveling to western Kansas.
Dumas' girls are 2-4 overall with wins against Pampa (64-40) and Dalhart (67-35) while losses have come at the hands of Canadian (55-46), Cooper (74-45), Hereford (61-54) and Perryton (67-41).
Wichita Trinity's season opener saw the Lady Knights fall to 3A traditional power Garden Plain, 55-37.
In that game, Kelli Henderson, a 5-9 senior, led the way with 11 points while Alex Shimp, a 5-5 senior, added seven.
Garden City's girls struggled some on the defensive end in both games against Pratt and Pueblo East, giving up 50 and 57 points, well above what coach David Upton would like.
But he had three players in double figures and 10 players get into the scoring column in the 72-57 rollover of Pueblo East on Saturday. Junior Taryn Tempel has paced the Lady Buffs with 21 and 22 points, respectively, in the two outings and 6-2 senior Johna McClelland came up with a 13-point effort in the Saturday win while sophomore Jaymie Bernbeck added 10. Junior guard Jacksenie Tornero has been the point guard floor general for the squad in the opening two games while Upton has spread out playing time amongst the 12 players on the roster.
Holcomb's girls, who made the 3A state tournament a year ago, returns all five of its starters and the Lady Longhorns started quickly on Friday at Liberal, dispatching the Lady Redskins. In that game senior guard Kyshia Prieto had 20 points while senior forward Karissa Pena added 16 and Kylee Amos contributed 10. First-year coach Kenton Tennel saw his team utilize a pressing defense and fastbreak offense to start its season on a positive note.
Scott City's girls, meanwhile, will have experience across the board in its opening game Thursday against Denver South.
Leading the way will be senior guard Shanaya Hoeme with junior forwards Jessica Lowenthal and Bailey Nickel providing height on the front line. Junior guard Kelly Wyckoff also returns for the Lady Beavers. They will be looking to improve on a 6-15 record from a season ago.
Notes: The Finney County Convention and Tourism Bureau assists in funding the Classic, providing teams with reimbursement for mileage. Welcome packages are also provided to the visiting schools. The Clarion Inn provides a set number of complimentary rooms to each of the three schools with all players receiving Classic T-shirts. Premier Alfalfa also assists with this sponsorship. All three booster clubs from the local three schools provide visiting teams with meals following their games each night.
2nd Clarion Inn Southwest Classic
Garden City/Holcomb/Scott City
6 p.m. (Girls)/8 p.m. (Boys)
Wichita Trinity at Garden City; Dumas, Texas at Holcomb; Denver South at Scott City.
6 p.m. (Girls)/8 p.m. (Boys)
Denver South at Garden City; Wichita Trinity at Holcomb; Dumas, Texas at Scott City.
5 p.m. (Girls)/7 p.m. (Boys)
Dumas, Texas at Garden City; Denver South at Holcomb; Wichita Trinity at Scott City.