Busters fail to protect home court
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
Early in the season, Garden City Community College Broncbuster head coach Brady Trenkle said one of the main priorities for his team was to protect home court during Jayhawk Conference West Division play.
On Saturday night at the Perryman Athletic Complex, the Busters failed to do so for the third time in five home games during the Jayhawk schedule, falling to the Cloud County Thunderbirds, 56-51.
What made it even worse was how the Busters lost, with their Achilles' heel cropping up once again in poor free-throw shooting, on top of a poor effort in rebounding and on grabbing loose balls.
The Busters were out-rebounded 38-32, and were a paltry 17 of 29 from the charity stripe, including an 0 for 2 with 34 seconds left to play and a chance to tie the Thunderbirds.
"Hit a free throw," an indignant Trenkle said after the game. "How's that sound? I mean, what else have I got to do to these guys? Step up and hit a free throw."
The Busters trailed the entire second half, falling behind by as many as eight. Yet, they kept within striking distance and seemed poised to steal the win away from the visiting Thunderbirds in the waning minutes, going on a 5-0 run to cut the deficit to 53-50 with one and a half minutes to play.
The T-birds were forced into a contested long jumper as the shot clock expired with a minute to go, and the Busters rebounded and broke the other way. Jady Cathey got the pass and went up for the layup, where he was fouled. He went to the line and hit 1 of 2, making it 53-51. The Busters again got a stop on the defensive end and rocketed the other way on a fast break. This time, Jalen Variste was fouled and went to the line for two with a chance to tie the game — if he made both — at 53 with 34 seconds to play.
Instead, the freshman point guard missed both, and the T-birds held on for the win and the season sweep of the Busters, whose third loss at home in conference play dropped them to 5-6 in the conference.
"We're horrible at (protecting home court)," Trenkle said. "It's our third league loss at home because we don't have pride in where we're at right now."
"I've got guys that play scared," Trenkle continued. "And I don't understand why you're playing scared right now. It scares me going into the regional tournament because I've got guys playing tentative and soft — not everybody, not everybody — but I can think of five guys that are playing tentative and soft."
The Busters hit only 11-of-23 free throws in the second half, and missed 10 of their last 17 in the game. The Busters were also saddled with 17 turnovers, including one with nine seconds to play on a possession where the Busters only needed two points to tie.
But it was the balls the Busters did not get to because of hustle that upset Trenkle the most.
"We gave up 50-50 balls all night," he said. "We weren't diving on the floor. We had some guys diving — Jade Cathey and Jeremy were on the floor all the time — but I had two guys let the ball go out of bounds off their own guy at a key moment in the second half. That's not how it should be."
Wilson and Cathey were also the leading scorers for the Busters. Wilson had a game-high 16, while Cathey had 10. Wilson was also one of only two free-throw shooters above 60 percent, going 8 for 10. John Bell was 4 of 5 en route to six points. Cathey was 3 of 5.
"We deserved to get beat tonight," Trenkle said. "It's sad. I hate saying it, but when you can't hit free throws."
The Thunderbirds were led by Lorenzo Dillard and Marvin Smith, who each had 13 points.
The win put the T-birds at 5-6 in the West, as well, but they hold the tie-breaker over the Busters because of the season sweep, relegating Garden City to sixth place with three games to play.
"This is a bad loss at a bad time," Trenkle said. "Now we've got to go and try to get the sweep at Pratt, which is one of the hardest places to play and they're playing really well."
The Busters travel to Pratt for an 8 p.m. contest on Wednesday. The Beavers (17-10, 7-4) lost 92-84 to Hutchinson in overtime on Saturday. For the Thunderbirds, they host Hutchinson at 8 p.m. Wednesday.
Cloud County (13-14, 5-6) — Stuart 3-9 0-0 7, Dillard 4-15 3-6 13, Henry 0-1 0-0 0, Smith 4-10 5-8 13, Gomis 3-6 2-2 11, Diop 1-2 1-2 3, Shasi 1-5 3-4 5, Brinker 2-3 0-0 4, Brooks 0-1 3-4 3. Totals 18-52 17-26 56.
Garden City (19-8, 5-6)-- Wilson 4-12 8-10 16, Whitaker 3-5 1-4 7, King 0-3 1-2 1, Variste 1-8 0-2 2, Johnson 0-3 0-0 0, Bell 1-2 4-5 6, Oyugi 1-2 0-0 2, Taylor 1-3 0-0 3, Cathey 3-6 3-5 10, Pierre 0-1 0-1 0, Banks 2-2 0-0 4. Totals 16-47 17-29 51.
Halftime--CCCC 32-29. 3-point goals--CCCC 3-12 (Stuart 1-4, Dillard 2-3, Henry 0-1, Smith 0-1, Shasi 0-3), GCCC 2-14 (Wilson 0-3, King 0-2, Variste 0-2, Johnson 0-2, Taylor 1-2, Cathey 1-2, Pierre 0-1). Rebounds--CCCC 38 (Gomis 11), GCCC 32 (Whitaker, Taylor 6). Assists--CCCC 6 (Dillard 2), GCCC 6 (Wilson, Variste, Johnson, Oyugi, Cathey, Pierre). Technical fouls--CCCC (Smith), GCCC (none). Fouled out--CCCC (Gomis), GCCC (none). Total fouls--CCCC 23, GCCC 22.