Frigid first half too much for Busters to overcome against Saints




LIBERAL — The Garden City Community College Broncbusters went 2-for-25 shooting in the first half of Wednesday night's game at Seward County.

That abysmal shooting led the Busters to a season-low nine points as they trailed 27-9 after the first 20 minutes. Despite scoring 51 points in the second half, the 18-point hole was too much to overcome in a 69-60 loss in the Greenhouse to the Saints.

"I've never witnessed that in my life," head coach Brady Trenkle said after the game. "We had point-blank shots, and we were missing them. We couldn't hit free throws."

The Busters pulled within 10 several times in the second half, including five minutes in as June Johnson hit a pair of free throws to make it 33-23. Then, they got it to 59-49 with 90 seconds left on Jalen Variste's driving layup. Johnson's 3-pointer with 50 seconds left cut the deficit to six, 60-54.

But the Saints (18-8, 8-2) hit their free throws to ice the game, and the Busters fell to 19-7 overall and 5-5 in the KJCCC West just two days after upsetting then 12th-ranked Hutchinson.

"(We had) no legs," Trenkle said. "The Hutch game wore us out."

The Busters finished 17 of 58 from the floor for the game (15 of 33 in the second half).

The first field goal for the Busters did not come until 12 minutes into the game on Talan Whitaker's hook in the lane to make it 13-5. The only other field goal in the half came from Miles Banks on a putback with four minutes left in the half, getting the Busters to 17-9. They did not score for the rest of the half as the Saints went on a 10-0 run behind Secean Johnson, who scored six of his nine points during the stretch to close the half.

June Johnson finished with a team-high 13 points on 2-of-4 shooting and 7 of 7 from the free-throw line. D'Shon Taylor had 12 points on 3 of 9 from the field and 5 for 5 from the charity stripe. Variste had 11 points to round out the Busters' double-digit scorers on the night.

Meanwhile, the Saints' Niem Stevenson had an outstanding night, scoring 36 points on 12 of 18 field goals, finishing as the Saints' only player in double digits.

"He's a good player," Trenkle said. "He's not (Hutchinson's) Kadeem Allen. They're different kind of players. (Stevenson) had a really good night. We knew how good he was. It takes a guy like that to step up and win a big game."

While the Busters were woefully bad in the opening 20 minutes, the Saints were marginally better, scoring only 27 points, 11 of those from Stevenson, to allow the Busters to stay relatively close.

"In the second half, we proved we found a way to get them. I'm going to put it on legs. My team's not the greatest shooting team, but 2 for 25? I can go 2 for 25 throwing it from the bench," Trenkle quipped.

But the Busters opened the second half poorly, as well, hitting only one field goal, a Reuben King layup, in the first five and a half minutes. Variste's driving layup ended that cold-shooting spell with 14:30 left.

"We wanted to get four this week," Trenkle said of the Busters' stretch of four games in eight days, culminating in Saturday's matchup with Cloud County. "Now we've got a chance to get three. We'll be ready for Cloud. That (poor shooting) won't happen. That's not going to happen again."

The Busters take on the Thunderbirds (12-14, 4-6), who defeated Dodge City 74-64 on Wednesday night, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Perryman Athletic Complex. The Saints, meanwhile, travel to Dodge City for an 8 p.m. contest Saturday.

"We'll be just fine," Trenkle said. "Bring (on) Cloud right now. My team's mad right now."


GCCC (19-7, 5-5)--Wilson 1-8 0-2 2, Whitaker 2-6 2-2 6, King 3-9 1-4 8, Variste 3-8 5-10 11, Johnson 2-4 7-7 13, Bell 0-1 0-0 0, Oyugi 0-2 0-0 0, Taylor 3-9 5-5 12, Cathey 2-6 2-6 6, Pierre 0-3 0-0 0, Banks 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 17-58 22-36 60.

SCCC (18-8, 8-2)--Purtue 0-0 0-0 0, Mentor 1-2 2-2 4, Stevenson 12-18 8-9 36, Hill-Bey 2-7 4-6 8, Johnson 3-9 3-5 9, Bridgeforth 1-3 2-4 4, Allen 2-4 1-2 5, Sharp 1-4 0-0 3. Totals 22-47 20-28 69.

Halftime--Seward County 27-9. 3-point goals--GCCC 4-15 (Wilson 0-2, King 1-5, Johnson 2-3, Bell 0-1, Taylor 1-2, Pierre 0-2), SCCC 5-13 (Stevenson 4-5, Hill-Bey 0-2, Johnson 0-3, Allen 0-1, Sharp 1-2). Rebounds--GCCC 36 (Taylor 7), SCCC 44 (Mentor 11). Assists--GCCC 4 (Wilson, Whitaker, King, Johnson), SCCC 6 (Johnson 3). Technical fouls--GCCC none, SCCC (Purtue). Fouled out--GCCC (Variste), SCCC (Johnson). Total fouls--GCCC 23, SCCC 21.

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