Lady Busters come up short vs. No. 1

2/11/2014

By J. LEVI BURNFIN

By J. LEVI BURNFIN

lburnfin@gctelegram.com

The last time the Garden City Community Lady Broncbusters took on the Hutchinson Lady Blue Dragons on Jan. 15 in Hutch, the game was over before halftime as the Lady Dragons cruised to the 77-43 win.

On Monday in the Perryman Athletic Complex, the Lady Busters presented a much tougher matchup for the undefeated and third-ranked Blue Dragons.

The Busters were within three in the second half and had the Lady Dragons on their heels with a physical man-to-man defense. Yet, it still was not enough to upset the Blue Dragons, as the Busters fell 68-55 to drop to 13-11 and 5-4 in the Jayhawk Conference West Division.

"We played well, not well enough to win, but we played well," head coach Nick Salazar said after the game. "I think if we could keep it at this level throughout the course of however many games we have left, we have a good chance of winning all of them."

Salazar noted many differences in how the Busters were able to stay in the game with the Blue Dragons (23-0, 9-0) after the rout in the previous contest. But the biggest difference was simple in Salazar's opinion.

"Honestly, I just felt like, and this is going to sound cliche, I just thought that we showed up to play from the beginning today," Salazar said. "I thought (in Hutch), quite frankly, it was a very similar game to this in that we only lost the second half by two to three points. The difference is we had lost the first half by like 18 or 19."

After trailing 46-33 at Hutch a month ago, it looked as though the Busters might be out of the game early again on Monday. The Lady Dragons led by as much as 16, 33-17, with only two minutes left in the first half. But the Busters made a run to cut it to 10 at the break.

The Busters continued the run into the second half with Collins scoring on a pair of layups, the latter on a fast break through two Hutch defenders, to open the final 20 minutes.

Zantaya Davis hit two free throws at the 15:39 mark to pull the Busters to within 34-31. The Busters were not employing their regular full-court press to try to cause turnovers, instead relying on a physical defense in the half court to rattle the Blue Dragons. It worked for stretches. But the grinding Dragons never acquiesced, and over the next eight minutes after the Lady Busters cut the deficit to three, the Lady Dragons went on a 24-7 run to gain a 55-41 lead.

"We lost the rebounding battle, and I thought that was a major difference in the game," Salazar said.

The Dragons hauled in 41 boards and 16 second-chance points, while the Busters had 27 for only two points.

Davis held her own inside, though, Salazar said, noting that he thought it was Davis' best all-around game of the season.

"I feel like she probably had the most complete game," Salazar said. "I know she's had better offensive nights, but against a team like that, to go in there to score like she did and then defensively, I mean she did a great job."

Davis had eight points on 3-of-7 shooting and hauled in a team-high six boards. The Busters were led offensively by Collins' 17 points on 6 of 14 from the field.

The Dragons had three scorers in double digits, led by Kalani Purcell's 19. Jen'Von'Ta Hill and Jamie Patrick followed with 16 and 14, respectively. Purcell also had 10 rebounds off the bench for a double-double.

The contest began eerily similar for the Busters compared to the game in Hutchinson. Collins turned the ball over on an ill-timed pass and the Blue Dragons broke the other way for the fast break layup and the quick 2-0 lead. But the Busters responded much differently than in Hutch.

Davis hit a spinning short jumper in the lane, then the Busters forced a turnover and Loysha Morris sped the other way for a layup on the fast break to tie at 4. On the Busters' next possession, Collins drew a foul and hit 1 of 2 free throws to give the Lady Busters a 5-4 lead.

But that was the last lead Garden City would have as Purcell hit a pair of free throws to put the Lady Dragons back on top 6-5 four minutes in.

The Busters will play their third game in five days on Wednesday when they travel to Liberal to take on No. 9 Seward County (22-3, 7-2) in a 6 p.m. tipoff. The Lady Dragons travel to Colby on Wednesday for their next game.

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Hutch (23-0, 9-0)--Harding 2-4 4-5 8, Patrick 5-13 3-5 14, Starks 2-8 0-0 4, Hill 5-9 4-7 16, Jones 0-1 4-6 4, Benoit 0-2 0-0 0, Dewey 1-5 1-2 3, Purcell 6-7 6-8 19. Totals 21-49 22-33 68.

GCCC (13-11, 5-4)--Morris 3-6 2-3 9, Chisom 1-3 0-0 2, Collins 6-14 5-6 17, S Davis 3-8 1-2 7, Z Davis 3-7 2-2 8, Carbonell 0-2 0-0 0, Spann 1-1 2-4 4, Inchun 1-3 1-3 3, Christmas 1-4 3-6 5. Totals 19-48 15-23 55.

Halftime--Hutchinson 33-23. 3-point goals--Hutch 4-14 (Harding 0-1, Patrick 1-6, Hill 2-3, Benoit 0-1, Dewey 0-2, Purcell 1-1), GCCC 2-9 (Morris 1-2, Collins 0-2, Davis 0-2, Inchun 1-3). Rebounds--Hutch 41 (Purcell 10), GCCC 27 (Christmas 6, Z Davis 6). Assists--Hutch 14 (Purcell 6), GCCC 14 (Collins 7). Technical fouls--none. Fouled out--Hutch (Jones), GCCC (Morris). Total fouls--Hutch 19, GCCC 24.

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