By BRETT MARSHALL
A year ago, one of the big troubles for the Garden City Lady Buffaloes basketball team was taking care of the basketball.
On Friday night at Pratt, turnovers arrived in a big way, as they proved costly in a 50-46 non-league loss to the Lady Greenbacks in the season-opening game for both teams at Pratt High School.
The Lady Buffs were guilty of 26 miscues while the Lady Greenbacks, ranked No. 8 in Class 4A, were almost as slippery with the ball, turning it over 24 times.
Coach David Upton's squad will get little recovery time to fix the turnover bug, as they were on the road by late morning today, headed to Pueblo, Colo., to take on Pueblo East at 7 p.m.
"It was a pretty sloppy game on both of us," Upton said of the turnover-marred contest. "We'd get it and then give it right back. Just a lot of first-game nerves I think. We tried to play too fast, were in a rush to do things."
Pratt opened with a hot hand shooting, knocking down four 3-pointers in the opening quarter to take command at 19-10 after the first eight minutes. The Lady Buffs never quite recovered and were never in the lead.
"We just spotted them too much of a lead in the first quarter and couldn't make up the ground," Upton said. "We kinda looked at this like a scrimmage, just to see what the kids could do. We saw a lot of things that we wanted to see, and I'm not upset with this at all."
Payton Hoeme accounted for two of the treys while Breann Becker and Stonie Flemming added one each. That put the Greenbacks up 17-5 late in the first. Hoeme finished with four treys en route to a 15-point effort while Jenson Maydew grabbed top honors for the Lady Greenbacks with 16 points.
The Lady Buffs, with junior Taryn Tempel getting hot on the offensive end, made a mini-run at Pratt, closing the gap to 29-27 before going in at halftime down by five, 32-27. Tempel finished with 16 of her game-high 21 points by intermission. Sophomore Jaymie Bernbeck was the only other double-figure scorer for the Lady Buffs, finishing with 11 points.
"Taryn did what Taryn does, and she knows how to find the basket," Upton said of the 5-7 junior guard. "But I really thought Jacksenie Tornero at the point and Tionna McKee did some nice things for it being their first varsity experience."
Upton praised Tornero's court leadership and McKee's passing.
"They didn't score much, but they did a number of really nice things," Upton said. "I'm encouraged by what I saw and I think we'll see a different type of game tomorrow."
Midway through the third quarter, the Lady Buffs closed to within four on a 16-footer by Jaymie Bernbeck, but then Pratt went on a 7-0 run to move back in front by 11, 43-32. It was 45-38 at the end of the third period.
Two minutes into the fourth and the Buffs were within six, 46-40, but again Pratt scored four unanswered points to take a 50-40 advantage into the final two minutes.
A 3-pointer by Jacksenie Tornero, a free throw by Tempel and a bucket by Johna McClelland with 10 seconds to play narrowed the deficit to the final four points.
"We would get close and then turn the ball over, and we battled all the way to the end and that's all you can ask," Upton said. "I just wish we would have been able to convert someof those opportunities."
Garden City 10 15 11 10 -- 46
Pratt 19 13 13 5 -- 50
Garden City (46) — McClelland 2 2-4 6, Linenberger 0 0-0 0, Tornero 1 0-0 3, Brunson 0 1-2 1, Tempel 9 1-2 21, McKee 1 2-2 4, Bernbeck 5 1-2 11. Totals 18 7-12 46.
Pratt (50) — Bailey 1 0-0 2, Becker 2 0-0 5, Tilley 0 2-2 2, Flemming 2 0-0 6, Olson 1 0-1 3, Hoeme 6 1-3 15, Garten 0 1-2 1, Maydew 5 4-9 16. Totals 17 8-17 50.
3-point goals — Garden City 3 (Tempel 2, Tornero 1), Pratt 9 (Becker 1, Flemming 2, Hoeme 4, Maydew 2). Total fouls — Garden City 17, Pratt 12. Fouled out — Garden City (Linenberger).