Lady Busters take bite out of Rattlers
By KEVIN THOMPSON
By KEVIN THOMPSON
The Lady Busters picked up the new year where they left off in December — winning.
Garden City avenged a Nov. 19 loss to Otero Junior College with a 70-57 win at the Perryman Athletic Complex, getting their fifth straight win as they begin conference play Saturday.
The Busters used a strong defensive performance to tame the Lady Rattlers' offense, forcing 31 turnovers, 18 in a decidedly dominating second half.
Maybe it was the return from a long holiday break, or maybe it was just a case of trying to figure out a tough zone, but the Lady Busters (8-7) struggled to find their rhythm early on Tuesday night.
Fortunately the Lady Rattlers (10-6) were accommodating, at least in the first half, as Garden City held a 31-29 lead.
Otero took a brief lead of 36-32 with 17:16 left in the game before they went near-dormant for over nine minutes while the Busters went on a 20-3 run to take the lead for good.
The win was payback for the earlier loss at Lamar, when the Busters blew a 12-point lead in the second half, fell behind, and mounted a comeback that fell short, 71-70.
On Tuesday, Sandra Davis led the Busters with 20 points and eight rebounds; and it was her rebounding prowess in the second half (she had no boards in the first) that lit a fire for Garden City.
"We really challenged her," head coach Nick Salazar said of Davis. "I thought she responded."
Davis had eight of her points during the run in the second half, including an offensive put-back following a missed free throw that started the streak.
Shauqunna Collins added 15 points from the guard spot and got a number of Rattlers in foul trouble with her drives to the basket to also spark the Busters.
"That's Shauqunna. That's her game, just create havoc," Salazar said. "I think she's capable of doing so much more."
In the first half, the Lady Buster bench implored their players to attack the Otero zone, but they came up empty on 19 possessions.
Otero, meanwhile, misfired on 21 trips, including 13 times on turnovers.
Garden City shot 14 of 33 in the first half (42.4 percent), but had only nine rebounds compared to the Rattlers' 19 boards. Otero was 11 of 25 from the floor (44 percent), but were checked by its 13 turnovers.
"I thought we looked terrible in the first half," Salazar said.
He said they spent a lot of time at practice expecting to be bad early after the layoff but mentally focusing his team on fighting through that.
"I knew that if we could keep Otero uncomfortable through the first half, our athleticism and talent would take over in the second half," he added.
After giving up the lead early in the second, Salazar said he was able go his bench and rotate in a variety of players, which allowed the Busters to play a lot of full-court defense, which wore down the Rattlers and inspired his squad.
"Defensively, we're a far better team than we were a month ago," Salazar said. "Today we just totally shut down their offense."
Salazar relishes his team's recent run, especially with 15-1 Seward County coming to town to open conference play at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday.
"I always believed that this team was capable of what we've seen tonight and leading up to it, and hopefully that carries into Saturday night," he said. "It's good to see them have success. They work hard."
Otero (10-6)--Rey 2-5 0-0 6, Bewley 0-1 0-0 0, Martinez 2-7 6-6 11, Gutierrez 2-9 0-0 5, Shipley 5-8 1-2 12, Haist 4-6 0-0 11, Borom 0-1 0-0 0, Santiago 5-7 0-0 9, Garcia-Paunero 1-2 1-1 3. Totals 20-46 8-9 57.
Garden City (8-7)--Davis 7-11 5-6 20, Davis-Jackson 3-9 2-4 8, Morris 3-9 3-5 9, Chisom 2-11 1-2 6, Collins 7-10 1-3 15, Horton 0-1 0-0 0, S. Williams 0-1 0-0 0 Spann 2-4 2-2 6, Christmas 3-4 0-0 6, T. Williams 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 27-61 14 70.
Halftime--Garden City 31-29. 3-point goals--Otero 9-21 (Rey 2-5, Martinez 1-4,Gutierrez 1-2, Shipley 1-2, Haist 3-4, Santiago 1-3, Garcia-Paunero 0-1), Garden City 2-8 (Davis 1-1, Chisom 1-4, Collins 0-2, Horton 0-1). Fouled out--Gutierrez. Rebounds--Otero 34 (Shipley 10), Garden City 25 (Davis 8). Assists--Otero 10 (Martinez 3, Velasquez 3), Garden City 10 (Collins 4). Turnovers--Otero 31, Garden City 14. Total fouls--Otero 16, Garden City 16.