By BRETT MARSHALL
HAYS — If the veteran-laden Garden City Lady Buffaloes entered the Hays City Shootout on Thursday with a loaded lineup that was considered one of the heavy favorites to claim the title, then Saturday's 41-35 loss to Newton in the third place game at Hays High Gym left the team with nothing but a would-be weapon that was shooting blanks.
For the second straight game, the Lady Buffs struggled in most areas that play pivotal roles in a win, or loss.
They were about as cold from the field as the 13-degree temperature was outside the HHS gym, connecting on just 12-of-46 shots (26.0 percent) while the Lady Railers were not much warmer, hitting 13-of-41 (31.7 percent).
The Lady Buffs had struggled just as much with their shooting in Friday's 52-46 semifinal loss to Great Bend.
The surprising ending to a 1-2 record and a lost weekend in Hays left head coach David Upton with a lot of questions about the direction this team will take, a team that was 17-4 a year ago and went undefeated in the Western Athletic Conference.
"If there's anything good, we do see the things that need to be corrected, and they are things that can be corrected," a downcast Upton said afterward.
The list has a number of things that could be on it, but several key items would include:
1. Shooting woes — After hitting a respectable 44 percent in their 66-20 blowout win against TMP-Marian on Thursday, the Lady Buffs went ice cold from the field, combining for 26 percent in the two losses.
2. Rebounding--The Lady Buffs were out-rebounded in both of their losses.
3. Turnovers--On paper, this doesn't look that bad, with 12 in the opener vs. TMP, and 16 in the loss to Newton. In between, though, they had 29 in the loss to Great Bend.
4. Defense--A staple of the success enjoyed a year ago, the Lady Buffs are struggling with their interior portion in defending, as well as at times on the perimeter.
5. Foul troubles--Both leading scorers Taryn Tempel and Jaymie Bernbeck have been susceptible to getting into early foul trouble, forcing them to sit key minutes on the bench.
"I'm not sure what's causing the shooting woes," Upton said. "But I do know that we've got to put the ball in the hands of the right people when players are asked. We're going away from those players, and the others simply aren't making shots."
And those unseemly turnovers proved big down the stretch against Newton when the Lady Buffs had several chances to close within four in the final minute, 30 seconds of the game.
"They've certainly been untimely," Upton said of the turnovers. "Defensively, we're just not the same as we've been in the past. That's the frustration when you have six seniors where we should be snapping off that defense.
"I'm just concerned that we don't have the court awareness, or basketball savvy, that you should have when you're in the game."
The Lady Buffs had gotten off to a better start than they had in the previous two games, jumping out to a 13-4 lead midway through the first quarter. At that point, nobody could imagine the looming problems for the final three quarters in which they managed just 20 points, including nine combined in the second and third periods.
It was a 15-10 advantage for Upton's crew at the break, and then the struggles of Friday reappeared.
Bernbeck was whistled for her second fouled with just under five minutes left in the half, and sat the rest of the period. Both teams had problems with turnovers, committing 10 between them.
While the Lady Railers could never grab the lead, they did cut the deficit to one on two different occasions, but Taylor Linenberger's driving layup with seven seconds before intermission provided the Lady Buffs with that slim 21-18 margin.
Bernbeck, who along with Tempel, made the all-tournament team, was the lone double-figure scorer for the Lady Buffs, finishing with 12 points. She also had seven rebounds. Guard Tionnia McKee had eight boards to lead the Buffs, who were out-rebounded 37-31 by the Lady Railers. Newton got 11 points each from Hannah Carlgren and Payton Roberts-Parker and 10 from Taylor Stahly.
There's little turnaround time for the Buffs as they come right back late in the week for the 2nd Clarion Inn Southwest Classic. They are slated to host Wichita Trinity on Thursday, Denver South on Friday and Pueblo (Colo.) East on Saturday in 6 p.m. games at The Garden.
Garden City 15 6 3 11 -- 35
Newton 10 8 8 15 -- 41
Garden City (1-2) — Padilla 0-2 0-0 0, Butler 0-0 0-0 0, Linenberger 3-4 0-0 6, Hinde 0-1 0-0 0, Telfair 0-0 0-0 0, Tornero 0-5 2-2 2, Brunson 0-2 0-2 0, Tempel 2-10 4-8 8, McKee 1-7 2-4 5, Dreiling 0-1 0-0 0, Bernbeck 5-11 2-2 12, Carrillo 0-2 0-0 0, Elliott 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 12-46 10-18 35.
Newton (2-1) — Anderson 2-4 3-5 7, Boston 1-3 0-0 2, Stahly 3-11 2-2 10, Bartel 0-3 0-0 0, Saenz 0-3 0-0 0, Carlgren 3-5 5-7 11, Roberts-Parker 4-11 3-7 11, Thieszen 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 13-41 13-21 41.
3-point goals--Garden City 1-9 (Padilla 0-1, Tornero 0-3, Brunson 0-1, Tempel 0-3, McKee 1-1); Newton 2-11 (Anderson 0-1, Stahly 2-8, Bartel 0-1, Saenz 0-1). Rebounds--Garden City 31 (McKee 8), Newton 37 (Roberts-Parker 9). Turnovers--Garden City 16, Newton 16. Fouls--Garden City 19, Newton 14. Fouled out--none.