Cowley pulls away from Busters
GCCC falters down stretch after Chinn injures ankle.
By ADAM HOLT
PARK CITY — Wrong person, wrong place, wrong time.
Mikell Chinn's importance to the No. 12 Garden City Community College women's basketball team doesn't always show in box scores. But it certainly does when she's not on the floor against quality teams.
So when the Lady Broncbuster point guard went down with a rolled right ankle with just less than nine minutes to play in Garden City's Region VI semifinal matchup with Cowley, so did the Busters, in a 68-52 loss.
Cowley outscored Garden City 24-10 after Chinn's injury, a loss that likely ends the Busters' season at 29-4.
"I just thought we couldn't catch a break in the last little bit," GCCC head coach Alaura Sharp said. "I thought we panicked. I probably panicked a little bit. All of a sudden, the lack of depth really hurt us. The game was very fast paced, I think it wore on us over time. We really just quit making plays down the stretch."
Cowley's Megan Honas made a layup with 8:56 to play to put the Tigers up 44-42. Chinn got the ball on the inbounds against the Tigers' press and rolled her right ankle on a crossover, going down immediately and losing the ball, which Cowley converted into a layup.
Chinn, in obvious pain, was helped off the court before being looked at by trainers. She later had her ankle taped up, but was unable to return. She finished with three points, five rebounds and five assists.
"That really hurt us a lot," sophomore Tamara Jones said. "Especially with her going down with seven minutes or so like that."
Garden City was already struggling against a tough Cowley (29-4) defense, and the loss of Chinn exacerbated things. Tahlia Pope took over at the point, but Garden City struggled to make shots down the stretch, shooting just 31 percent from the field for the game.
"Really unfortunate. Really tough break for us," Sharp said. "However, I thought Tahlia Pope stepped up for us and did a nice job. Just, once she's on the ball, now she can't cut into the offense where we need her to. And Mikell's ability to lead us and break people down and get us in scoring position was really missed."
Cowley took advantage, turning the two-point lead into a 10-point margin by the 2:38 mark. It was 60-50 with 1:40 left, but Garden City's only points the rest of the way came on a Pope layup with 50 seconds remaining.
"We just kind of fell apart," Sharp said. "That's not a reflection of who we are as a group of people. There's been so many times we've been able to rally around and find a away. I'm just really proud of how we handled that last seven minutes, even though it didn't go the way we wanted."
Tonisha Walker was almost unstoppable for Cowley, going 7-of-14 from the field and 13-of-14 at the free throw line en route to 28 points. Honas hit a pair of big 3-pointers for the Tigers and finished with 13 points.
Deni Jacobs led Garden City with 16 points, while Pope and Jones added 13 each. Jones, owever, scored only three points in the second half.
"They went to the face guard action," Sharp said. "That extremely bothered us. We kinda just stopped executing."
GCCC was uncharacteristically out-rebounded, 44-32. Cowley got 20 points off 16 Garden City turnovers, while the Busters had just 10 points off 15 takeaways.
Jones scored the first eight points of the game, making back-to-back 3-pointers and a turnaround jumper in the first four minutes of the game as Garden City built an 11-1 lead.
That early lead eventually became a 22-21 deficit, as the Busters went 3-of-12 from the field with six turnovers over the next 12 minutes.
After making early shots before the Cowley defense settled in, Garden City struggled in longer possessions on offense. The Busters finally got going in the final few minutes and took a 29-25 lead into the half, after a Brittany Maxwell layup with 3.5 seconds left.
The first semifinal saw Hutchinson hold on against Butler to win 60-59. The Grizzlies lost leading scorer Jamillah Bonner to a right ankle injury in the second half, but almost overcame an eight-point deficit with less than two minutes to play.
The Dragons' Chrisstasia Walker missed a pair of free throws with 7.5 seconds to play, keeping it 60-59, and Butler got it all the way up the court before Jade Herl blocked Shayla Williams' baseline shot to end the game.
Hutchinson and Cowley will play at 5 p.m. today for the Region VI title and an automatic berth into the national tournament.
Now comes a long week for the Busters. Though technically not eliminated from one of four at-large bids to the NJCAA tournament, the odds are not in Garden City's favor after the loss.
"I think it will be a pleasant surprise," Sharp said about the possibility of gaining an at-large bid. "As of right now, we're handling it like our season's over."
"It's a long shot, but I'm pretty confident that ... we could have a really good chance," Jones said. "I hope so."
Cowley (68) — Gronas 1-5 2-2 5, Honas 4-6 3-4 13, Ptacek 0-5 1-2 1, Nolen 1-5 0-0 2, Dunkley 2-6 0-1 4, Bush 3-6 0-0 6, Walker 7-14 13-14 28, Johnson 3-7 3-4 9. Totals 21-54 22-27 68.
Garden City (52) — Jacobs 6-12 4-6 16, Green 1-11 0-0 3, Pope 3-8 5-6 13, Chisom 1-7 0-0 2, Chinn 1-3 0-0 3, Maxwell 1-1 0-0 2, Jones 5-15 1-2 13, Young 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 18-58 10-14 52.
Halftime — Garden City 29-25. 3-point goals — Cowley 4-12 (Honas 2-3, Gronas 1-3, Walker 1-3, Ptacek 0-1, Nolen 0-1, Dunkley 0-1), Garden City 6-21 (Jones 2-8, Pope 2-2, Green 1-8, Chinn 1-2, Chisom 0-1). Fouled out — none. Rebounds — Cowley 44 (Johnson 8), Garden City 32 (Jacobs 7). Assists — Cowley 11 (Nolen 3), Garden City 16 (Chinn 5). Turnovers — Cowley 15, Garden City 16. Total fouls — Cowley 14, Garden City 20.