By BRETT MARSHALL
An imposed 17-day layoff for the Garden City Lady Buffaloes basketball team didn't do too much to put a smile on coach David Upton's face.
But a strong second-half performance had him at least moderately happy after watching his team produce a 51-34 victory on Friday night over the Great Bend Lady Panthers at the New Garden.
The win improved the girls to a program-history best 6-1 overall record and 2-0 in the Western Athletic Conference. The Lady Buffs have less than 24 hours to regroup, as they hit the road today for a non-league 5 p.m. game at Topeka West.
"The play was pretty ugly, especially the first half," Upton said. "You have to take 17 days off and can't play, it's hard to get that momentum, that chemistry back, that you had before the break."
Upton could point to 26 turnovers as an after effect of the long break for the holidays. He could also point to inconsistencies on both ends of the court through the first 16 minutes.
In the final 16 minutes, the Lady Buffs employed a lockdown defensive effort, limiting the Lady Panthers to just 12 points, and only two points in the final eight minutes of the game.
A pair of late buckets by Great Bend in the third cut the Lady Buffs' lead to 38-32 as the teams headed to the fourth quarter.
It was then that the game took on a new look as the Lady Buffs scored the first 13 points to put the game away.
"I told the girls at halftime that Great Bend was going to give great effort and we had to match that," Upton said. "I'm not sure we did that in the first half, but certainly we bounced back in the second half. We did a better job of making them shoot the outside shot (1-of-16 from 3-point range).
After taking a narrow first quarter lead, the Lady Buffs went on a 10-0 run midway through the second quarter to break out of a 19-all tie. That put them up 29-19 with just 90 seconds left before intermission.
Great Bend got a last-second outback from Hannah Hildebrand to make it 29-22 at the break.
Jaymie Bernbeck had eight points at halftime and Taryn Tempel had seven. Great Bend got six points from Kaylie Doll.
Both teams got off to a quick start in the opening quarter, with the Lady Buffs eventually finishing with a 16-14 lead after building a 16-11 advantage with just over a minute left in the first period.
There were five ties and six lead changes in that eight-minute stretch.
Taryn Tempel and Jaymie Bernbeck were the scoring leaders for the Buffs, finishing with 18 and 11 points, respectively. Johna McClelland grabbed 12 rebounds to help Garden to a 38-32 rebounding edge. Hannah Hildebrand had eight boards for the Panthers, while Hildebrand, Kaylie Doll and Morgan Harwood had six points each to pace the Great Bend scoring attack.
The Lady Panthers fall to 3-3 overall and 0-1 in the WAC. Following today's game at Topeka West, the Lady Buffs will be on the road Tuesday for a 6 p.m. game at Liberal.
Great Bend 14 8 10 2 -- 34
Garden City 16 13 9 13 -- 51
Great Bend (34) — Hildebrand 2-5 2-2 6, Kelsie Doll 1-3 0-0 2, Spray 1-9 0-0 2, Unruh 2-5 0-1 4, Kaylie Doll 2-8 1-2 6, Mauler 1-6 1-4 3, Stueder 2-7 1-2 5, Harwood 3-8 0-0 6. Totals 14-51 5-11 34.
Garden City (51) — McClelland 3-8 1-1 7, Padilla 1-3 0-0 2, Linenberger 0-2 0-0 0, Carillo 0-0 0-0 0, Tornero 2-6 2-2 7, Brunson 0-0 1-3 1, Tempel 7-13 3-5 18, McKee 1-4 1-1 3, Bernbeck 5-8 1-3 11. Totals 19-44 9-15 51.
3-point goals--Great Bend 1 (Kaylie Doll), Garden City 2 (Tornero 1, Tempel 1). Rebounds--Great Bend 32 (Hildebrand 8), Garden City 38 (McClelland 12). Turnovers--Great Bend 24, Garden City 26. Fouls--Great Bend 17, Garden City 14. Fouled out--Great Bend (Mauler).