Lady Busters take measure of Conqs

3/5/2014

By J. LEVI BURNFIN

By J. LEVI BURNFIN

lburnfin@gctelegram.com

WICHITA — The Garden City Community College Lady Broncbusters were out to make a statement — and to extract a little bit of revenge — on Wednesday night during the Region VI quarterfinals.

They accomplished both of those goals with a wire-to-wire 64-50 romp over the 14th-seeded Dodge City Lady Conquistadors at Koch Arena.

On Feb. 22 in Garden City, the Lady Conqs took advantage of a lackluster effort from the Lady Busters and stole a 69-61 win, only Dodge City's third win in conference play.

Buster head coach Nick Salazar said his team was "embarrassed" about the loss, and wanted a bit of redemption and the sixth-seeded Lady Busters got it, advancing to the semifinals for the third-straight season.

"(Getting to the semifinals) is big for me," Salazar, the Busters' first-year coach, said after the game. "I'd be lying if I said that wasn't heavy on my mind. Alaura (Sharp, GCCC head coach in 2011-13 seasons) got to the semis, and I think it's a testament for what we're doing at Garden City."

With the semis on the line, the Busters and Conqs exchanged early scores, with the Busters holding a 9-7 lead seven minutes in. But from there, the Busters went on a 21-2 run, out-running and out-rebounding the Lady Conqs, leading to several fast-break scores and a 31-9 lead with three minutes left in the half.

Jasmine Christmas got it started by blocking Kesha Buckner's shot and racing the other way, where Loysha Morris found her for a short jumper and an 11-7 lead.

Shauqunna Collins scored on her own jumper in the lane off a fast break on the next possession, and the Busters were off and running. The Busters forced the Lady Conqs to turn it over six times during the stretch, and kept them to only 1 of 12 from the field. A lone long jumper from the top of the key by Johlicia Williams kept the Lady Conqs from being shut out.

"That's our game," Collins, the 5-5 point guard whose speed is the catalyst for the Busters in transition, said. "That's what we do. We get run-outs, and we just blow out teams."

During the run, though, it was not Collins doing all the scoring. She was only responsible for two points, while the Busters got seven points from Loysha Morris, five from Ashlynd Horton, four from Christmas and two each from Kimberly Carbonell and Sandra Davis.

"They're really tough in transition," said Dodge head coach Mark James. "When they get out and run, that's when they're at their best. There's not too many teams in the country that can handle that."

While only scoring two points for the game, it was Davis' ability to haul in rebounds and get the ball to Collins as fast as possible to start the run-out that was key in the first half, Salazar noted.

"It's huge," he said. "That starts our break."

Davis hauled in 14 boards, 11 in the first half, as the Busters pulled away. With the University of Houston commit leading the way, the Busters won the rebounding battle, 48-39.

Collins and Morris tied with Dodge City's Kelli Tollar for a game-high 15 points. Zantaya Davis chipped in 11 points in her first game back after missing the first-round win over Labette due to a death in her family.

Azaria Nave had 14 points for the Conqs, including 10 in the second half to help the Conqs keep within striking distance. Dodge City chipped away to end the first half with a 7-0 run to make it 31-16 at the break, and then cut that to single digits, 48-39, in the second half, but were never able to pull any closer.

"Garden does a really good job of answering back," James said. "It's one of those things, it's just kind of deflating. It kind of takes the wind out of your sails."

But James also said he did not think the Conqs were as far out of it as it looked in the first half, citing their confidence coming into the game after beating Garden City just two weeks ago — the Busters' loss Salazar called embarrassing.

"To be embarrassed to lose to us is kind of a slap in our face," James said. "That's not something that we would ever disrespect another team. When you get into conference play, every game is a dogfight and a battle, regardless if it's against the top seed or the bottom seed."

The Busters won't technically be facing the top seed in the semifinals on Friday — the KJCCC East's first-place team (Butler) was automatically the top seed coming into the Region VI tournament — but the Hutchinson Lady Dragons, who beat Independence 70-53 in the quarterfinals on Wednesday, might as well be.

The Lady Dragons are undefeated at 30-0, the No. 3-ranked team in the country and are the two-time defending Region VI champions.

The Busters, meanwhile, have lost in the semifinal round each of the past two seasons, a trend Collins believes they will end at 3 p.m. Friday against the Dragons back in the Koch Arena.

"We're definitely going to get it," the sophomore transfer said. "I have confidence in my team. We've had a lot of role players stepping up lately."

In the previous two match-ups between the teams, Hutchinson won both by a combined 47 points (77-43 at Hutch on Jan. 15), but the latter on Feb. 10 was only by 13 points (68-55 in Garden).

"I believe we were one of the four best teams in the conference, and now we've kind of proved it," Salazar said. "And now we've got a chance to prove that we have the ability to be in the final game over one of the best teams in the country. We'll be game — hopefully."

Note: On the other side of the bracket, Butler defeated Cloud County 76-67 to move on to the 1 p.m. semifinal on Friday, where they will face 12th-seed Barton, which upset fourth-seeded Seward, 61-56, on Wednesday.

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GCCC (18-13 8-6)--Morris 7-13 0-0 15, Chisom 2-8 2-2 6, Collins 5-9 5-7 15, S Davis 1-6 0-0 2, Z Davis 2-8 0-0 4, Veleta 0-1 0-0 0, Horton 2-4 0-0 5, Carbonell 1-1 0-0 2, Spann 0-1 4-8 4, Inchun 0-2 0-0 0, Christmas 5-8 1-1 11. Totals 25-61 12-18 64.

DCCC (17-15, 3-11)--Whipple 0-0 0-0 0, Buckner 3-13 1-1 7, Esparza 0-0 0-0 0, Nave 5-17 3-6 14, Tolar 4-13 5-6 15, Whitaker 0-2 0-0 0, Cramer 1-2 2-3 4, Patterson 1-3 0-4 3, Hall 1-7 1-2 3, Williams 2-4 0-0 4. Totals 17-61 12-22 50.

Halftime--GCCC 31-16. 3-point goals--GCCC 2-7 (Horton 1-3, Morris 1-2, Davis 0-1, Inchun 0-1), DCCC 4-21 (Cramer 0-1, Whitaker 0-1, Patterson 1-3, Buckner 0-3, Nave 1-7, Tolar 2-6). Rebounds--GCCC 48 (S Davis 14), DCCC 39 (Buckner 10). Assists--GCCC 14 (Collins 5), DCCC 7 (Buckner 5). Turnovers--GCCC 14 (Collins 5), DCCC 13 (Buckner 4). Technical fouls--none. Fouled out--none. Total fouls--GCCC 19, DCCC 18.

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