Lady Busters advance in Region VI
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
A month ago in Colby, the Garden City Community College Lady Broncbusters needed a spark against the winless-in-KJCCC play Lady Trojans.
Enter sparingly-used Monica Veleta off the bench for a couple of big 3-pointers before halftime as the Lady Busters took a 35-20 lead and cruised to a 16-point win.
On Saturday at the Perryman Athletic Complex in the first round of the Region VI tournament, the Busters again needed an igniting player as the Jayhawk East's sixth-seeded Labette Lady Cardinals took a 24-17 lead with eight minutes to go in the first half.
Again enter Veleta, a freshman guard from Tribune, as she hit back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the deficit to 26-23. Six minutes later, Veleta, who averaged only 1.5 points per game in the regular season, swished a trey from a foot behind the line on the left wing to give the Busters a 37-34 lead just before half.
From there, the Lady Cardinals never led again as the Lady Busters advanced to the Region VI quarterfinals with a 72-69 win.
"I think we won the game because of Monica Veleta," Buster head coach Nick Salazar said. "The three 3s were big. She loosened the zone so Shauqunna (Collins) and Tori (Spann) could get into the middle of the zone. You don't do that unless Monica goes in there and hits three 3s."
Veleta finished with the nine points on the trio of treys, but it was enough to stretch the Lady Cards' defense to allow the dynamic Collins room to operate.
"That's huge," Collins said of Veleta's shooting. "With a team that's sagging off, and then you've got a player that doesn't normally get much (playing time) come out and take huge shots and make them consistently, it stretches out the defense and gets us going."
Collins did not need much prompting to get herself going, though, as she sliced through the defense for a triple-double with a game-high 24 points, on 10-of-12 shooting, 10 assists and 10 rebounds. On a single drive in the second half, she crossed over two Lady Cardinals en route to an easy layup.
Labette head coach Anna Nimz resorted to just screaming at her players to 'stop letting (Collins) go right,' the 5-foot-5 guard's dominant hand to drive.
It didn't work.
"She's excellent," Nimz said. "We really wanted to try to keep her away from her right hand, but she's a great ballplayer, and she really makes that team go, so hats off to her."
Collins was especially effective in transition, scoring 12 points on fast breaks and assisting on several more for the Busters' 27 points in the fast-break offense.
"I'm determined," Collins explained about her ability to score despite all of the efforts to stop her. "Every single time I catch the ball, I'm thinking one thing, 'get to the paint as fast as possible and make a play.'
"I don't care if you're the best defender or not, I'm not going to let you dictate what I do. I'm going to dictate what you do. That's the difference."
The Lady Cards withstood much of the Lady Busters' best efforts, though, keeping within striking distance, evening the score at 49 halfway through the final period. But the Busters regained the advantage with a fast-break layup as Loysha Morris found Collins streaking to the basket after Morris pick-pocketed a Lady Cards' ballhandler.
The Busters stretched the lead to as much as 11, 64-53, with four minutes to play, but the Lady Cardinals kept fighting back.
An Iri Nicholas' bucket with 25 seconds left cut the deficit to just 71-69, but Jasmine Christmas hit 1-of-2 free throws on the next possession.
The Lady Cardinals had one last shot in the waning seconds, but Allegria Chisom got a clean block on Holly Ullery's desperate 3-pointer.
"I walked in there," Nimz explained about what she told her team after the close loss, "and just told them that they shouldn't have any regrets. They left their hearts on the floor and they gave it all their effort, and we fell just a little bit short. But I'm proud of them — nothing to hang your head about."
The Lady Cardinals finish the season 16-16 overall after going 4-8 in the Jayhawk East.
Meanwhile, the Lady Busters (18-13, 9-6) move on to the quarterfinals to take on Dodge City (18-14, 4-11) at 5 p.m. Wednesday in Koch Arena in Wichita. The Lady Conquistadors upset Coffeyville in the first round on Saturday.
"I'm very excited," Collins said about playing in Wichita. "I'm ready to go down that tunnel."
Labette (16-15, 4-9)--Nicholas 3-7 3-4 9. Odom 4-10 7-9 15, Wellon 4-11 5-5 13, Russel 3-9 0-0 6, Ullery 2-5 0-0 6, Douglas 6-13 3-5 15, Ford 0-1 0-0 0, Carver 1-5 0-0 3, Kuney 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 24-63 18-23 69.
GCCC (17-13, 9-6)--Davis 2-8 4-8 8, Morris 1-5 1-2 3, Chisom 3-11 2-2 8, Collins 10-12 4-8 24, Christmas 5-6 3-4 13, Veleta 3-11 0-0 9, Williams 1-3 2-2 4, Carbonell 0-1 0-0 0, Spann 0-2 1-6 1, Inchun 0-3 2-4 2. Totals 25-62 19-36 72.
Halftime--Garden City 37-34. 3-point goals--LCC 3-13 (Nicholas 0-1, Odom 0-3, Ullery 2-3, Ford 0-1, Carver 1-5), GCCC 3-13 (Morris 0-1, Chisom 0-1, Veleta 3-10, Inchun 0-3). Rebounds--LCC 40 (Russel 9), GCCC 45 (Collins 10). Assists--LCC 6 (Nicholas 3), GCCC 17 (Collins 10). Turnovers--LCC 17 (Douglas), GCCC 17 (Christmas 7). Technical fouls--LCC (bench), GCCC (none). Fouled out--LCC (Ford), GCCC (Christmas). Total fouls--LCC 26, GCCC 19.