Busters prepare for back seven





Halfway through the KJCCC West schedule, the expectation might be clarity in the standings for the Garden City Community College basketball teams.

Instead, it's got the lucidity of mud.

The Lady Broncbusters are tied for third at 4-3 in the West with Barton County and Cloud County after the Lady Busters fell to Barton, 80-62, on Saturday. However, the Lady Busters also beat the Lady T-Birds of Cloud on Jan. 25, who bested the Lady Cougars of Barton on Jan. 18.

Meanwhile, outside of those three teams, the KJCCC West is crystal clear as NJCAA No. 3 Hutchinson established supremacy of the conference at 7-0 (21-0 overall), giving the No. 9 Seward County Lady Saints their only loss of the conference schedule at 6-1.

Those two sit atop the standings, followed by Barton, Cloud and Garden tied for third.

In the bottom third, Pratt is 2-5 with their two wins coming over the only two teams beneath them in the standings, Dodge City (1-6) and Colby (0-7).

"We still control our own destiny," head coach Nick Salazar said in a phone interview on Monday. "All we need to do is hold service by beating the teams we already have, and then figure out a way to beat one of the three teams we lost to."

Salazar said the loss to Barton was by far the hardest to reconcile out of the three conference losses (at Hutch, home to Seward), because it meant the Lady Busters had missed their chance to establish themselves as the clear third-best team in the conference at 5-2 if they had won.

Instead, they're stuck in the muddled three-team middle of the conference vying for third, fourth and fifth in the conference standings. And fifth results in having to travel for the opening game of the Region VI playoffs instead of hosting.

"I feel like we're better than Cloud, and we're better than Pratt, and I still think we're better than Barton," Salazar said. "We just need to play better next time."

On the men's side, their last-second 65-64 loss to Barton left the Busters at 3-4 in conference after losses at home to Seward County and Barton, and on the road at Cloud and at Hutch.

With Cloud also at 3-4, the Busters lose that tiebreaker to the T-birds, leaving the Busters in sixth behind No. 15 Hutchinson (6-1), Seward County (5-2), Pratt (5-2), Barton (4-3) and Cloud heading into the back half of the conference schedule.

Only Dodge City (2-5), and Colby (0-7) are behind the Busters in the standings.

But as head coach Brady Trenkle put it in a telephone interview on Monday, that does not mean anything, yet.

"We're still only half way through conference right now," the first-year coach said. "I've been in the same position before in the league, and my teams were always better in the second half."

The only disappointment of the first half to Trenkle was that his team is 2-2 at home.

"I'm not happy about that," he said. "We were all discouraged with the loss to Barton, but that's a very good team."

That Saturday loss was especially hard in that Trenkle wanted a close win, something they have not had since a 70-69 win at Lamar, Colo., on Dec. 3.

But it's also encouraging that his team has had a chance to win every game, as well, with its largest defeat being seven points at the hands of Cloud County in overtime.

And if only a couple of breaks go the Busters' way, a couple of the games could have been wins instead of losses.

"We're right there in every single game," he said. "I'm not discouraged by any means. I like the way we're playing. My guys are fighting hard."

Remaining Schedule: vs. Hutchinson, Wednesday; at Colby, Saturday; at Seward County, Feb. 12; vs. Cloud County, Feb. 15; at Pratt, Feb. 19; vs. Dodge City, Feb. 22; at Barton County, Feb. 26.

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