Busters clamp down on Conqs
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
It was an emotional night for the Garden City Community College Bronbusters on Saturday as they hosted the Dodge City Conquistadors.
The game could possibly have been the final one in the Perryman Athletic Complex for head coach Brady Trenkle's squad this season.
So for the sophomores, it could have been their last game in the building for their career.
But to ensure another home game in the first round of the Region VI playoffs, the Busters had to beat the Conqs for their second-straight win heading into the final regular season game on Wednesday at Barton.
"That night after the Cloud loss (on Feb. 15), I said, 'all you've got to get is three in a row,'" Trenkle said. "Seedings will take care of themselves."
The Busters executed the second of those three with an 83-71 win over the Conqs, improving their record to 21-8 overall and 7-6 in the Jayhawk Conference West. The Conqs, meanwhile, drop to 15-14 and 4-9, and are locked into the seventh seed just ahead of Colby (0-13).
The Busters' fate is wildly uncertain with only one game to play, as five teams are either 8-5 (Hutchinson, Barton, Pratt) or 7-6 (Garden City and Cloud County).
But it breaks down fairly simply for the Busters. If they win, they most likely will host a first-round playoff game (barring tiebreakers). If they lose, they will be the sixth seed in the conference and will not host a first-round game and will hit the road to play the No. 3 team in the East.
But to even have hope of playing at home in the playoffs, the Busters had to beat Dodge City.
They began on that trek quickly, jumping out to a 20-point lead after the first half as they were 15-of-26 shooting (58 percent), including 4 of 5 from 3-point range.
But the Conqs made a run in the second half, cutting the advantage to just 69-63 with slightly more than four minutes to play.
"They've gotten a lot better than the first time we played them," Trenkle said of the Busters' 76-63 win in Dodge on Jan. 29. "We were picking them apart in the first game, just as far as the way the game was going. (Saturday), they did a good job of packing it in and taking away our strengths."
The Busters' shooting percentage dropped to 36 percent (9 of 25) in the second half.
"I'm just telling you, we're a better team in closer games," Trenkle said. "When we get up big, my guys get tight."
The Busters did seem to loosen up when the Conqs pulled within single digits, and were able to push the lead back up to 12 for the final margin despite a pair of technical fouls — with one each on Jade Cathey and Jeremy Wilson — in the final five minutes.
"We lost our emotion a little bit at the end there, but it happens," Trenkle said. "It was an emotional night."
Trenkle's sophomore forward Cathey agreed.
"Lot of emotion, actually. I'm going to miss it here," the 6-foot-5 sophomore who has played two seasons at GCCC said. "It's made me become more of a man. I made a lot of changes from last year. I thank Garden City for that."
Cathey was once a highly-sought recruit at wide receiver in football, and was possibly heading to Kansas State out of high school to play for the Wildcats. Instead, Cathey wanted to play basketball, and chose the junior college route to pursue that dream.
"I mean, it's been a fight the whole time because some people thought I should have played football," Cathey said. "So, in reality, I've just been trying to prove those people wrong."
Cathey finished with only six points against Dodge City, but leads the Busters at 12.2 points per game this season.
It was freshman D'Shon Taylor leading the Busters on Saturday with 22 points. Wilson chipped in 15 and June Johnson had 11.
EJ Eaves had a game-high 24 points for the Conqs, while Ameer Jackson had 22.
Scott City product Brett O'Neil had five points for Dodge City.
"There was a lot of people in the stands tonight," O'Neil, who was part of three-straight basketball state titles for the Beavers, said. "So I was ready to play from the get go. Just disappointed we didn't get the win."
The Busters travel to Great Bend on Wednesday to take on Barton at 7:30 p.m. The Conqs host Hutchinson in their regular season finale.
Dodge City (15-14, 4-9)--Jackson 6-12 9-12 22, Eaves 5-13 14-20 24, O'Neil 2-4 0-0 5, Clark 1-2 0-0 2, Carpenter 1-2 4-4 6, Brock 0-6 0-0 0, Duley 0-2 0-0 0, Rencher 0-1 2-4 2, Beckett 3-6 4-4 10. Totals 18-48 33-44 71.
Garden City (21-8, 7-6)--Wilson 4-10 6-7 15, Taylor 5-7 9-10 22, Banks 0-1 0-0 0, Bell 3-6 0-0 0, Bell 3-6 0-0 6, Variste 1-5 6-10 8, King 2-2 0-0 5, Oyugi 0-1 0-0 0, Johnson 4-7 1-2 11, Cathey 3-5 0-0 6, Whitaker 1-3 5-6 7, Pierre 1-4 1-2 3. Totals 24-51 28-37 83.
Halftime--GCCC 41-21. 3-point goals--DCCC 2-10 (Jackson 1-3, Eaves 0-1, O'Neil 1-1, Brock 0-3, Duley 0-2), GCCC 7-11 (Wilson 1-2, Taylor 3-3, Bell 0-1, Variste 0-1, King1-1, Johnson2-3). Rebounds--DCCC 27 (Beckett 9), GCCC 30 (Wilson, Variste 5). Assists--DCCC 3 (Carpenter 2), GCCC 9 (King 2). Turnovers--DCCC 13 (Beckett 4), GCCC 11 (Bell, Whitaker 2). Technical fouls--DCCC (Eaves, coach), GCCC (Cathey, Wilson). Fouled out--DCCC (Carpenter), GCCC (Wilson, Variste). Total fouls--DCCC 28, GCCC 29.