Busters ousted from Region 6 tourney





For the third-straight season, the Garden City Community College Broncbusters were eliminated from the Region VI basketball tournament in the first round on Saturday, falling at Neosho County in Chanuyte, 74-59.

The loss ends head coach Brady Trenkle's first season at Garden City, and the junior college careers of eight sophomores, something that Trenkle said hit his team the hardest after the loss.

"Honestly, I think you're always sad (after a season ends), unless you win a national championship," Trenkle said in a telephone interview. "I had a lot of guys in tears in the locker room when it ended. But I think it was the realization that it was over with this group, this team is what did it."

The Busters finished 22-9, their most wins since 2008-09 (25-13, 9-7) when they made their run to the NJCAA National Tournament, and were tied for third in the Jayhawk West after the regular season, but fell to the fifth seed because of tiebreakers, which sent them on the road to run-and-gun Neosho.

The up-tempo Panthers jumped out to a quick lead on the Busters, taking a 23-12 advantage halfway through the first half, and with a 35-31 margin at intermission.

The Busters answered back in the second, despite a poor shooting night when they hit just 15-of-53 shots (28.3 percent). Trenkle's squad took a couple of two-point leads in the second half, with the final advantage coming at 55-53 with eight minutes to play. However, the Panthers closed out the game with a 21-4 run to pull away for the 15-point win.

"We just couldn't get anything down," Trenkle said of the final stretch. "And they had possessions where they made 3s back to back and that hit us right in the gut."

Jonathan Bell led the Busters with 12 points on 3-of-7 shooting, while Talan Whitaker was the only other Buster in double figures with 11, including 9 of 10 from the charity stripe.

Kyler Steadman scored a career-high 24 points to lead the Panthers, including 17 of 19 free throws, while Charles Cooper and BJ Jenkins chipped in with 19 and 12 points, respectively.

Cooper and Steadman were also a rebound away from a double-double to help the Panthers dominate the boards over the Busters, 47-29.

"There was just no flow to the game whatsoever," Trenkle said, referencing the 58 fouls called and the 82 combined free throws attempted. "We did a decent job guarding the 3-point line, but a poor job in the not fouling part. And there was some fouls I was iffy with. They were calling things that weren't called all year, but it was going both ways."

The Busters again faltered at the free-throw line, hitting just 27 of 42, while the Panthers flourished, dropping in 35 of 40.

"It's probably a film I'll never go back and watch," Trenkle said. "When your season ends, it's something you don't want to watch."

Especially when that season ends much sooner than Trenkle had hoped.

"We get that win against Cloud (on Feb. 15), we finish third and we're probably heading to Wichita," Trenkle opined. "But it didn't break that way."

The loss to the T-birds was the last of the regular season for the Busters as they won their final three (at Pratt, vs. Dodge City and at Barton), but the Cloud loss put them too far behind in the tiebreakers to finish in the top four of the West and host a playoff game.

The Panthers, who finished in a four-way tie for fourth in the East, but were the fourth seed because of tiebreakers, now advance to the Region VI quarterfinals for the first time since 2005. They will take on the West's top seed, Seward County, at 7 p.m. Thursday at Koch Arena in Wichita.

For the Busters, the season ends for what Trenkle described as a special group of players.

"I'm proud of this group," he said. "I had a great team to get this program going. They were fun to watch, and they never made excuses."

The Busters lose a pair of two-year players in forward Jade Cathey and guard Reuben King. But they also lose six sophomore transfers in guards Keegan Oyugi, June Johnson and Bryant Miller, and forwards Jeremy Wilson, D'Shon Taylor and Whitaker.


GCCC (22-9, 8-7)--Bell 3-7 6-6 12, Variste 1-11 3-4 5, Wilson 1-4 2-6 4, Banks 1-3 2-6 4, Taylor 0-2 0-0 0, Whitaker 1-2 9-10 11, Cathey 4-6 0-2 8, King 1-8 3-4 5, Johnson 1-2 2-2 5, Pierre 2-5 0-0 5, Oyugi 0-1 0-0 0, Craig 0-1 0-2 0. Totals 15-53 27-42 59.

NCCC (21-10, 5-8)--Cooper 5-11 9-11 19, Jenkins 2-8 6-6 12, Garland 2-4 2-2 7, Batish 0-3 0-0 0, Acuil 0-3 0-0 0, Steadman 3-7 17-19 24, Terrell 4-7 0-0 9, Frantz 1-4 0-0 2, Downing 0-0 1-2 2. Totals 17-47 35-40 74.

Halftime--Neosho 35-31. 3-point goals--GCCC 2-12 (Bell 0-1, Variste 0-2, Wilson 0-1, Taylor 0-1, King 0-4, Johnson 1-1, Pierre 1-2), NCCC 5-15 (Jenkins 2-4, Garland 1-3, Batish 0-2, Steadman 1-3, Terrell 1-1, Frantz 0-2). Rebounds--GCCC 29 (Wilson 5), NCCC 47 (Cooper, Steadman 9). Assists--GCCC 12 (Oyugi 4), NCCC 9 (Cooper, Jenkins, Garland, Steadman 2). Turnovers--GCCC 5 (Variste, Wilson, Cathey, King, Pierre), NCCC 13 (Steadman 3). Fouled out--GCCC (Bell, Wilson), NCCC (Acuil, Buckley).

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