By KEVIN THOMPSON
ULYSSES — The first quarter couldn't get any closer, tied at 18.
Then Garden City put together one of its best statement quarters of the season and cruised to a 55-41 win over Ulysses.
Playing its seventh straight road game, GCHS coach Jacy Holloway was a little concerned about how his team would start the game against a scrappy Tiger team, but he was able to breathe easier when everything clicked in the pivotal second quarter as the Buffaloes picked up their 10th win of the season.
After trailing 9-4 midway into the first quarter, Garden City's Bo Banner, Hunter Delgado and Austin Terpstra scored the Buffaloes' next 14 points, including two 3-pointers by Delgado to get the tie.
In the second period, though, Holloway switched from a man defense to a 1-3-1 zone that forced the Tigers wide outside but clogged the lane, effectively shutting down the home team. That defense held Ulysses to just one field goal early in the quarter, a block of time that produced seven turnovers and six one-and-out series.
Meanwhile, the Buffaloes' offense hit its stride. Four straight possessions ended in scores to start the quarter (including Delgado's
third trey), and Terpstra scored the final three field goals of the half for his team to put them up 33-20 at the break.
That lead jumped to 37-20 before Tregg Rodriguez hit at 5:33, ending a 16-possession, 11-minute scoring drought for the Tigers.
Garden City's defense held Ulysses to just 34 percent shooting (15-of-44), while the Buffaloes hit 51 percent (22-of-43).
The second quarter, with the change in defense and the 15-2 run, was about as good as his Buffaloes can get, Holloway said.
"Over in Valley Center we had a third quarter that was similar, where we scored 23 points. It was the 1-3-1 defense again," he said, referring to the mid-season tournament this past weekend in which Garden City placed third.
The first-quarter man defense was used to prevent his team from getting stagnant early to create a flow, he added. The zone, though, seems to suit his longer, lankier team. The Buffaloes can put some groups out there where they can go with longer-armed and taller players, and they've tried to take advantage of that of late, Holloway said.
Terpstra led all scorers with 17 points, while Delgado added 13 and Banner 10 to lead a balance, yet lethal attack.
About the only negative Holloway saw was in rebounding, with the Tigers getting the edge 26-23.
"I thought they did a better job than us rebounding and attacking," he said. But only 11 turnovers (only 7 in the first three periods) was a good counter to that.
Now 10-4 (6-2 since the holiday break), the Buffaloes seem to be hitting their stride, Holloway said.
"When you see a run like this and get the wins that we've gotten against the teams that we've played, some confidence should be brewing," he said.
Nathan Medina led Ulysses (7-7) with 10 points, but the defense shut down the Tiger center for most of the game following the opening quarter.
It was that control that Holloway said he was happy to see from a team that was getting a bit road weary.
Ulysses' strong start was great to see, but they just didn't sustain that momentum, Tigers coach Nathan Novack said.
"Our guys started out energized. I felt that our energy level was so much better than this past weekend (1-2 at the Coffeyville tournament to complete a 5-game week)," he said. "We came out and moved the ball well against the different defenses we saw that first quarter. We were crashing the boards. We were going after loose balls."
Garden City's zone created problems for his team on the perimeter, where the Tigers made too many lazy passes and didn't take care of the ball as they should have, he added.
Ulysses was playing without senior forward Tate Annis due to an injury, and that took away 10 points and four boards a game. But it meant even more, Novack said. Annis makes the defense better, but it might be a week before he is ready to return.
Garden City gets a week off before playing Holcomb on Tuesday, and since it's been a long but productive stretch on the road, Holloway said it will be nice to play in front of a home crowd.
Ulysses gets a week off before facing Colby, and it will be good to get some players healthy again.
"We need everybody at full strength. We have Tuesday-Friday games the next three weeks," Novack said.
Garden City 18 15 15 7 -- 55
Ulysses 18 2 10 11 -- 41
Garden City (10-4) — Delgado 4 2-2 13, Riggs 2 0-0 5, Hernandez 1 0-0 2, Nanninga 1 0-0 2, Banner 4 2-4 10, Keller 1 0-0 2, Terpstra 8 1-1 17, Parr 1 2-4 4. Totals 22 7-11 55.
Ulysses (7-7) — Stringham 1 2-2 4, Rodriguez 3 0-0 7, Walters 1 1-1 3, Barlow 3 0-0 6, Degollado 3 2-2 9, Meierhoff 1 0-0 2, Medina 3 4-5 10. Totals 15 9-10 41.
3-pt. goals - Garden City 4-10 (Delgado 3, Riggs 1), Ulysses 2-12 (Rodriguez 1, Degollado 1). Rebounds - Garden City 23 (Delgado 6, Terpstra 4), Ulysses 26 (Medina 9). Turnovers - Garden City 11, Ulysses 16. Fouled out - none. Total fouls - Garden City 13, Ulysses 13.