Rockin', rollin': Lady Busters race past NW Kansas Tech
By ADAM HOLT
The first step of the Garden City Community College women's basketball team's journey toward a Region VI championship got off easily — boringly, even.
The No. 12 Lady Broncbusters flirted with a 40-point lead down the stretch in a 75-39 romp over the Northwest Kansas Tech Lady Mavericks to open the Region VI playoffs at the Perryman Athletic Complex on Saturday night.
In a No. 2-No. 7 matchup, the 36-point victory started the postseason off the way Garden City wanted, more or less.
"I think for the most part," GCCC head coach Alaura Sharp said. "I thought our focus lacked a little bit at times, but you look up at the scoreboard, you do what you need to do."
The lapses in focus came more in the final 10 minutes of the game, with the Busters building a 30-point lead. But a 30-point lead does not necessitate good focus.
"No," sophomore post Tamara Jones said. "We need to focus more. But, when we're up by so much, it's kinda hard to focus on what plays to do."
But by the numbers alone, the only thing not to like were the 16 GCCC turnovers.
Otherwise, Garden City (28-3) rolled. The Busters shot 23-of-47 from the field, went 28-of-37 at the free-throw line, and won the rebounding battle 52-32. They held the Mavericks to 20.6 percent shooting from the field, and just 2-of-16 from 3-point range.
That last stat sticks out for a NWKT team that likes to fire up threes, and more often than not this season, has made them. But leading scorers Leticia Rodriguez (15.6 points per game) and Shaletha Mayberry (15.8) were held to a combined eight points and 1-for-10 on 3-pointers.
The Mavericks' quickness and ability to strike from deep made them a potential upset threat, at least until the game actually got under way.
Garden City's height and length seemed to bother NW Kansas Tech more than the Mavericks' quickness bothered the Busters.
"I feel like we guarded the 3-point line really, really well," Sharp said. "I think that was really our length that bothered them. Because if you look at their scores, and the games that they have played, when they put up big numbers, it was because they made a lot of threes. So I thought we did a good job on the 3-point line."
"They didn't shoot very many, either," Jones said. "So we did good on guarding the outside."
Jones just missed out on her eighth straight double-double, finishing with 21 points and nine rebounds, despite sitting the final 10 minutes or so of the game. Deni Jacobs added 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field and 4-of-4 at the free throw line, and Tahlia Pope had 15. All eight Busters scored.
Five minutes into the game, it was a 9-7 game, with the Mavericks cutting it to a two-point game off a fastbreak layup by guard Shannon Watts. Garden City responded with a 13-0 run and led 34-13 at half.
It was 51-21 by the 13:23 mark in the second, and by the time Mikell Chinn got her first points — a pair of made free throws with 4:24 left — it was 68-29.
Watts scored 21 points and nabbed 10 rebounds to lead the Mavericks.
Garden City will host Coffeyville (14-17), which was a 73-61 winner over Pratt, at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Region VI quarterfinals.
Sharp said she just wants the Busters to stay hungry. The fact the Busters can nitpick a 75-39 win seems to indicate they're not complacent.
"Yeah. It's good," Jones said. "Come Tuesday, we play Coffeyville. We're gonna have to focus up more. But that doesn't mean we can't still have fun, maybe win by double-digits."
Notes: Starting at 6 p.m., GCCC is sponsoring a meet and greet with new Busters' football coach Matt Miller, his defensive coordinator Jeff Kelly and defensive secondary coach Joe Gordon. All three are former Kansas State University players.
NW Kansas Tech (39) — Hall 1-1 1-2 3, Rodriguez 0-5 1-2 1, Watts 6-18 8-11 21, Mayberry 3-18 0-0 7, Boyd 0-4 0-0 0, Mayek 1-7 1-2 3, Leonard 1-2 0-0 2, Wedding 1-8 0-0 2. Totals 13-63 11-17 39.
Garden City (75) — Jacobs 7-11 4-4 18, Chisom 1-5 2-4 4, Jones 7-14 6-7 21, Pope 4-5 7-12 15, Chinn 0-0 2-2 4, Green 0-2 4-4 4, Maxwell 1-3 3-4 5, Young 3-7 0-0 6. Totals 23-47 28-37 75.
Halftime — Garden City 34-13. 3-point goals — NWKT 2-16 (Watts 1-3, Mayberry 1-7, Rodriguez 0-3, Boyd 0-2, Wedding 0-1), Garden City 1-7 (Jones 1-4, Chisom 0-1, Pope 0-1, Green 0-1). Rebounds — NWKT 32 (Watts 10), Garden City 52 (Young 14). Assists — NWKT 3 (Boyd 3), Garden City 16 (Chisom 5). Turnovers — NWKT 14, Garden City 16. Fouled out — NWKT (Hall). Total fouls — NWKT 25, Garden City 16.