By BRETT MARSHALL
LIBERAL — The Garden City Lady Buffaloes' basketball team closed out its regular season in just the fashion that coach David Upton had hoped for just a week earlier.
One game at a time. One win at a time.
And for the second-straight game, the Lady Buffs got a dominating performance, this time a 57-31 rout of Liberal's Lady Redskins at The Big House on Tuesday night.
Combined with Newton's 52-29 win over Hutchinson, the Lady Buffs were assured of the No. 3 overall seed in the Class 6A sub-state, and will now wait to see who gets the No. 6 seed and will travel to The Garden on March 5 for the semifinal contest at 7 p.m.
It was a quick start for the Lady Buffs once again, rolling to a 17-5 lead after the first quarter.
"We got off to a good start, got the big lead and I liked that part," Upton said of the first quarter. "But we weren't doing a good job of blocking out early. I was upset with that, but thought we got it corrected much better in the second half."
The Lady Buffs once again got a balanced scoring effort, with three players finishing in double figures.
Senior Taryn Tempel was able to celebrate a second milestone late in the season, scoring 14 points to go over the 1,000-point plateau just two weeks removed from becoming the school's all-time leading scorer.
In typical Tempel fashion, she reached 1,001 points on a driving layup down the left side of the lane with just under 90 seconds remaining.
"All good things," Upton said of Tempel's breaking the 1,000-point barrier. "Did with one of her good moves, something she's done for four years."
Jaymie Bernbeck added 11 points and Tionnia McKee, who was a perfect 3 of 3 from the field and 4 of 4 at the free throw line, contributed 10. All eight Lady Buffs who played, scored. Kennedy Brunson hit two big 3-pointers early in the game to get the team off and running.
"She's feeling more confident, more comfortable in her role now," Upton said. "Thought she really stepped up tonight."
The rebounding issue Upton referred to ended up with the Buffs being on the short end of 28-26 Liberal edge on the boards. Bernbeck led the way with eight.
"We've got a new group getting used to each other, and at times they're a little shaky," Upton said. "But I liked the way we shared the ball. Sometimes we played too cautious, and when you are trying to be too careful, you make mistakes."
That led to 20 turnovers by the Lady Buffs, but the Lady Redskins returned the favor with 24 miscues of their own.
Four different players scored in the opening period, with Bernbeck getting six of those and Brunson five.
The halftime lead of 18 was the biggest of the second quarter for the Lady Buffs, as Breece Dreiling got a pair of field goals and Brunson her second 3-pointer, while the stifling defense limited the Redskins to just three field goals in the 16 minutes of action. In addition, Liberal was forced into 13 turnovers.
The Lady Buffs, with Tempel and McKee alternating, limited Liberal leading scorer Jai Chapman to nine points on 3-of-11 shooting. Garden City was red-hot from the field, making 24 of 39 for 61.5 percent. Liberal, meanwhile, was a chilly 9 of 41 for 21.9 percent.
Official pairings will come out on Saturday, so the Lady Buffs will have to wait and see whether they will host Hutchinson, Wichita Northwest or Dodge City.
Garden City finishes 12-8 overall and 5-3 in the WAC, while Liberal slips to 7-12 and 2-5. The Lady Redskins play Dodge City on Friday to close out their regular season.
Garden City 17 12 12 16 -- 57
Liberal 5 6 5 15 -- 31
Garden City (12-8, 5-3) — Hinde 1-3 0-0 2, Dart 2-4 2-2 6, Brunson 3-6 0-0 8, Tempel 3-6 8-9 14, McKee 3-3 4-4 10, Dreiling 3-5 0-0 6, Bernbeck 5-9 1-3 11, Carrillo 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 24-39 15-18 57.
Liberal (7-12, 2-5) — Limon 0-2 0-0 0, Chapman 3-11 3-3 9, Hernandez 1-2 4-4 6, Terrazas 0-2 3-6 3, Sanchez 1-1 0-0 2, Ramirez 0-5 0-0 0, Nunez 0-3 0-0 0, Besecker 0-2 0-0 0, Long 0-2 0-0 0, Shelton 0-3 0-0 0, Mickens 4-8 3-5 11. Totals 9-41 13-18 31.
3-point goals--Garden City 2-4 (Brunson 2-2, Tempel 0-2), Liberal 0-5 (Chapman 0-1, Hernandez 0-1, Nunez 0-1, Besecker 0-2). Rebounds--Garden City 26 (Bernbeck 8), Liberal 28 (Mickens 5). Turnovers--Garden City 20, Liberal 24. Fouls--Garden City 17, Liberal 16. Fouled out--none. Technical fouls--none.