Busters win finale, will be on road for playoffs
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
GREAT BEND — It did not matter how other games broke down in the Jayhawk Conference West, the Garden City Community College Broncbusters needed to go on the road to Great Bend and beat Barton on Wednesday night.
The Busters came into the game with a variety of possible scenarios for the first round of the Region VI playoffs, depending on how the other three Jayhawk West games finished. But one thing was certain, if head coach Brady Trenkle's team lost, it would be the sixth seed and would have to travel to face the East's third seed.
Instead, the Busters beat the Cougars, 74-72, in the regular season finale to improve their record to 8-6 in the conference and 22-8 overall.
And that's when the rest of the results from the Jayhawk West finally mattered to Trenkle, as he immediately afterward tried to sort through the maze to figure out the seedings as four teams in the West finished tied for third at 8-6, with Pratt losing to Seward County and Cloud County beating Colby.
After a series of tiebreakers, the Busters finished in fifth place and will travel to Neosho County on Saturday for the first-round game, with the time to be determined.
"We'll leave on Friday, get up to Chanute, and get a good night's sleep and go try to do it again — go try to get another road win," Trenkle said simply about having to hit the road after the tiebreakers left the Busters without a home game.
Regardless, Trenkle wanted his team to savor Wednesday's win.
"This was a good way to end the year with three in a row," Trenkle said after the Busters beat Pratt, Dodge City and Barton to close out the regular season. "That's what you want — you want to be playing well — going into the region tournament."
The Busters took a quick 15-3 lead six minutes into the game, but the Cougars fought back and the two teams exchanged leads six times in the first half in an omen of what the second half produced.
The Cougars took the biggest lead of the second half at 63-55 with 6:38 left in the game, and then led 68-60 with four to play.
But John Bell answered for the Busters on back-to-back possessions, scoring four of his team-high 17 points with a driving layup and two free throws to make it 69-64. Then, Jalen Variste put in a pair of charities and a driving layup before Bell picked off an errant Cougars' pass and raced the other way for a fast-break layup to tie it at 70.
The Cougars re-took the lead, 72-70, with two minutes to play before Jade Cathey's putback with 50 seconds left tied it again at 72.
On the Cougars' next possession, Tyler Corley, who was red-hot from beyond the arc for a game-high 22 points, got a good look from 3-point range but came up short.
Reuben King corralled the board for the Busters and was fouled, sending him to the line for two — he made both, giving the Busters the final margin with 40 seconds to play. Trenkle's squad got two defensive stops down the stretch to hold.
"I feel very fortunate to get this win," an exhausted Trenkle said after the game. "It's a good win. This is a hard place to play and (Barton's) a very good team."
Bell was an efficient 6-of-7 shooting, 1 of 1 from beyond the arc and 4 for 4 from the charity stripe, while also playing lockdown defense.
"John's a trooper," Trenkle said. "He stepped it up when we needed it."
Jeremy Wilson added 16 points on 7-of-13 shooting for the Busters, while Cathey had 10 points and a team-high seven rebounds.
Raheem Johnson had a double-double for the Cougars with 10 points and 14 boards.
The Cougars finish as the sixth seed and will travel to Butler on Saturday. Pratt finished in third place, while Cloud County was fourth in the West.
In the East, seeds are Independence, Coffeyville, Butler, Neosho County, Northwest Kansas Tech, Labette, Allen and Cowley.
GCCC (22-8, 8-6)--Bell 6-7 4-4 17, Variste 2-9 4-4 8, Wilson 7-13 1-2 16, Taylor 1-5 1-2 3, Banks 0-2 1-2 1, King 0-2 2-2 2, Oyugi 1-1 0-0 3, Johnson 3-6 0-0 8, Cathey 3-5 4-12 10, Whitaker 1-5 2-4 4, Pierre 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 25-58 19-32 74.
Barton (20-10, 8-6)--D Johnson 4-9 0-0 8, Gibson 2-7 5-9 9, Corley 4-12 10-14 22, Parks 2-4 0-0 5, R Johnson 1-5 8-10 10, Unrau 3-4 0-0 9, Smith 0-0 2-2 2, Williams 1-7 2-2 5, Robinson 0-0 2-2 2, Chambers 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 17-49 29-39 72.
Halftime--Garden City 38-35. 3-point goals--GCCC 5-15 (Bell 1-1, Variste 0-1, Wilson 1-2, Taylor 0-3, Oyugi 1-1, Johnson 2-4, Cathey 0-1), Barton 9-21 (Gibson 0-1, Corley 4-8, Parks 1-3, Unrau 3-4, Williams 1-5). Rebounds--GCCC 34 (Cathey 7), Barton 43 (R Johnson 14). Assists--GCCC 12 (Variste 4), Barton 7 (Corley 3). Turnovers--GCCC 5 (Wilson, Banks, Johnson, Cathey, Whitaker), Barton 10 (Parks 3). Technical fouls--none. Fouled out--GCCC (none), Barton (D Johnson). Total fouls--GCCC 25, Barton 26.