By BRETT MARSHALL

bmarshall@gctelegram.com

The Garden City Lady Buffaloes basketball team quickly will get an opportunity to see how the tough competition of the Newton Invitational has prepared them for the final month of the regular season.

Coming off a 1-2 record of the NIT after Saturday’s 55-45 loss to Andover Central, the No. 5-ranked team in Class 4A-I, the Lady Buffs will regroup in a hurry to prepare for Tuesday’s 6:30 p.m. in-county clash at Holcomb.

Saturday’s loss was another tough one for the Lady Buffs as they were within two points of the Lady Jaguars with just over three minutes left, trailing 40-38 after Tionnia McKee’s 3-pointer. From there, though, the Lady Buffs had too many miscues and couldn’t stop Central point guard Mason Stamp from driving to the basket, getting easy buckets along with a couple of free throws down the stretch.

“I thought overall, defensively, we did a good job until the last three and a half to four minutes to keeping their two main scorers in check,” said GCHS coach David Upton.

The Lady Buffs got off to a rocky start when Central’s Brooke Pederson unloaded 11 first-quarter points to help Central to a 16-7 lead after one stanza.

Garden City (9-5) began a slow rally, outscoring Central 11-6 in the second period, making it a 22-18 deficit at halftime.

The Lady Buffs trailed by as many as 12 in the third quarter, but trimmed the deficit to 30-27 by quarter’s end.

When Taryn Tempel scored on a driving layup with 5:50 remaining in the game, the Lady Buffs took their first lead, 35-34. But it didn’t last, as Pederson made the last of her three-pointers for a 37-35 advantage that the Lady Jaguars would not relinquish.

It was still a one-possession game at 46-43 with just more than two and a half minutes showing, but then Central went on a 9-0 run to close it out.

Garden got double-figure scoring from McKee with 11 points and Jacksenie Tornero with 10. Pederson finished with a game-high 17 points while Stamp and Skylar Snodgrass added 11 and 10 points for the Lady Jags.

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Garden City    7    11    9    18    —    45

Andover Central    16    6    8    25    —    55

Garden City (9-5) — Dart 2 2-2 7, Tornero 2 5-6 10, Tempel 2 1-1 5, McKee 4 2-4 11, Dreiling 2 0-0 4, Bernbeck 3 0-0 6, Carrillo 0 1-3 1, Elliott 0 1-2 1. Totals 15 12-18 45.

Andover Central (10-3) — Stamp 4 2-2 11, Pederson 6 0-0 17, Kakoulis 1 0-0 2, Snodgrass 4 1-2 10, Schulte 2 2-5 6, Kretchmar 4 1-1 9. Totals 21 6-10 55.

3-point goals—Garden City 3 (Dart 1, Tornero 1, McKee 1), Central 7 (Stamp 1, Pederson 5, Snodgrass 1). Fouls—Garden City --, Andover Central 18.