Buffs drop sub-state title game, 78-59, to Wichita North.
By BRETT MARSHALL
Perhaps the clouds of imminent doom weren't quite apparent at the end of the first and second quarters of Saturday night's Class 6A sub-state championship game against Wichita North for the Garden City Buffaloes' boys basketball team.
Perhaps the fact that they had hit 7-of-8 field goals (87.5 percent) in the first quarter, yet trailed 20-18, wasn't clearly visible.
And maybe, just maybe, the fact the Buffs were down by five at halftime (37-32) despite still blistering the nets at 60 percent (12 of 20) was a portent of things to come.
So when the visiting Redskins, a season removed from relying on Wichita City League all-time leading scorer and now University of Kansas freshman Conner Frankamp, opened with an 11-0 blitz in the third quarter to take command with a 48-32 advantage, things just crystallized at that moment.
All of those statistics resulted in North rolling in the second half to a 78-59 rout of the Buffs, who cooled off in the second half (8 of 24, 33.3 percent) and couldn't match the Redskins, who put the most points on the board against the Buffs this season.
"Certainly the start of the third quarter wasn't what we were looking for," GCHS coach Jacy Holloway said. "I thought we did a number of good things in the first half, and yet they had that little run (7-2) in the final minute or so of the second quarter."
The Buffs had gotten off to a fiery start with 6-5 junior Caleb Tramp doing most of the damage. He finished the first half with 14 points off 7-of-8 shooting, but then mysteriously only was able to get two more shots in the final 16 minutes.
"Those first three possessions (for North in third quarter) I think just kind of shell-shocked us," Holloway said. "That bothered me a lot that we didn't respond. We weren't understanding what they were doing, and making the adjustments."
Holloway said that most close games at halftime are eventually determined by what transpires in the first five minutes of the third quarter. And in this case, he was sorrowfully correct.
Five minutes into the third and it was a 51-35 game. By quarter's end it was 60-45.
A flurry of 3-point buckets by senior Hunter Delgado (4 of 4 in the final half), brought the Buffs to within nine at 62-53 with 5:15 left in the game after the Redskins had led by as many as 19.
"I thought we scrambled the defense pretty well, got a few turnovers," Holloway said about a North team that had only 10 miscues in the game. "But we had two trips down and turned it over."
After that, the Redskins were off and running again, scoring 10 straight points to go up 71-53 with less than two minutes showing, and iced the game.
North coach Gary Squires said his team, which now heads to the state tournament for the third-straight season — this time with a barely above .500 record (12-10) — has had its share of ups and downs, but when they play well, they're competitive with most City League teams.
"We have a lot of pride in the City League," Squires said. "We wanted to represent the league as good as we could. The kids stepped up tonight, and it's a reward for how hard they've worked this season. I thought we got our running game going, turned up the pressure on defense, and that went a long way in helping us get the lead."
The Buffs' leaky defense had no answers to the offensive display of the Redskins. Senior guards Tarius Williams and Zach Beard combined for 44 points (Williams with 27, Beard with 17), and between the two, they were 4 of 8 from 3-point range and 17 of 21 at the free throw line.
Gage Loy, a 6-9 senior who transferred from Bishop Carroll this year, was also a thorn in the Buffs' side. He tacked on 10 points, but more importantly grabbed 15 rebounds as North dominated the boards to the tune of 35-21. Tramp led Garden with seven. Sean Bernard added 11 points for North.
For the Buffs, Delgado led the way with 16 points, 12 of those in the second half. Tramps's 14 followed, and Tristan Nanninga added 10.
Ironically, the Buffs had one of their best shooting nights of the season at the free-throw line, sinking 16 of 18 (88.8 percent), but North went to the line 36 times, making 21. North shot 52 percent from the field (26 of 50). The Buffs turned the ball over 16 times to North's 10.
Holloway said Saturday's game was a reflection of the roller-coaster season for the Buffs.
"We just never maintained any consistency throughout the season," Holloway said. "We have to get players in our program mentally tougher. Last year, we won some close games with mental toughness. This year, that basketball mentality was missing."
And yet the fourth-year GCHS coach said he thought his team played hard.
"I can't really think of any times where the effort wasn't good this season," Holloway said. "They tried, but just couldn't find the right formula. I thought this game came down to how much they score vs. how much we defend. And they won the battle."
It was only the third time all season the Buffs yielded more than 60 points, all resulting in losses. The previous high of 66 came against Holcomb.
Seniors who saw their prep careers come to an end for the Buffs included Delgado, Mitchell Hernandez, Nanninga, Emilio Parr and Luis Gurrola.
Saturday's loss left the Buffs with a 13-9 season record, following the 2013 season's 15-8 in which they reached the 6A state tourney and lost in the first round.
Wichita North 20 17 23 18 -- 78
Garden City 18 14 13 14 -- 59
Wichita North (12-10) — Beard 4-11 7-7 17, Villa 2-6 0-0 6, Williams 8-11 10-14 27, Cotton 0-1 2-2 2, McCrary 0-0 1-2 1, Sanders 1-2 0-0 2, Bogle 1-2 0-0 2, Loy 5-9 0-3 10, Bernard 5-7 1-6 11, Lewis 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 26-50 21-36 78.
Garden City (13-9) — Tramp 7-10 0-0 14, Delgado 6-10 0-0 16, Olivas 1-2 0-0 2, Koster 1-4 4-5 6, Hernandez 1-7 0-0 3, Nanninga 2-6 6-6 10, Rodriguez 1-4 0-0 2, Parr 1-1 1-1 3, Love 0-0 1-2 1. Gurrola 0-0 2-2 2. Totals 20-44 16-18 59.
3-point goals--North 5-12 (Beard 2-4, Villa 2-4, Williams 1-2, Cotton 0-1, Bogle 0-1), Garden City 5-11 (Delgado 4-6, Koster 0-1, Hernandez 1-4). Rebounds--North 35 (Loy 15), Garden City 21 (Tramp 7). Turnovers--North 10, Garden City 16. Fouls--North 18, Garden City 22. Fouled out--none. Technical fouls--none.