Lady Busters press Cloud for latest win; now 3rd in West
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
The Cloud County Lady Thunderbirds started the second half on a 10-0 run over the Garden City Community College Lady Broncbusters on Saturday night at the Perryman Athletic Complex.
That run gave the T-birds their largest lead of the night, 35-28, only two and a half minutes into the second period, forcing Buster head coach Nick Salazar to call his second full timeout in that span. So to get his lackadaisical Busters started, he went to their most effective weapon of the season — the fullcourt press.
In the Thunderbirds' next four possessions, they missed a long 3-pointer from the right wing, turned it over twice and were called for an offensive foul. In the same span for the Busters, they got a free throw from Zantaya Davis, a pair of 2-pointers from Jasmine Christmas on back-to-back possessions, and a fadeaway jumper from the top of the key by Allegria Chisom to tie it at 35.
The Busters used the "double fist" defense, as dubbed by Salazar, a couple of more times when they needed to jump-start the offense down the stretch to the same effectiveness, catapulting the Busters to a 67-63 Jayhawk Conference West Division win.
"Double fist was used sparingly, but when it was it really threw them for a loop," Salazar said after the game. "It got them really discombobulated there for three or four possessions."
As the offense bogged down against a stingy 3-2 T-birds' defense, Salazar leaned on the athleticism and speed of his pressing defense to create scoring chances.
The prescription worked to perfection.
After tying it at 35, the Thunderbirds re-gained the lead and stretched it to 46-39. Christmas got it back to 46-42 on a driving layup plus the foul, sinking the ensuing free throw. Immediately following, the Busters jumped to the press, forcing three-straight turnovers and tying it at 46 on Sandra Davis' layup on an assist from Zantaya Davis.
The Busters took their final lead at 57-55 with six minutes to play on Shauqunna Collins' driving layup on the baseline, and held onto the lead by harassing the T-birds' ballcarriers up and down the floor, limiting the Thunderbirds to only three field goals in the final nine minutes of play.
"What (the press) does, it makes our athleticism — when we're dialed in and doing it right — it makes our athleticism the most important variable in the game," Salazar said. "That's an inherent advantage that we've had all year. I don't care what your press break is, if we've got five people that run faster and jump higher, it's going to bother you."
His 6-foot-1 post Sandra Davis agreed.
"It gets other teams really razzled," the University of Houston commit said.
The Busters caused the T-birds to turn the ball over 21 times, converting those into several fast-break points at the other end. Sandra Davis had a team-high 14 points, followed by Loysha Morris' 12 and Collins' 11.
Zantaya Davis was two points short of a double-double with eight points and 12 boards.
The Busters got off to a quick start, scoring seven-straight points, the latter four on fast breaks from Collins. But the Lady T-birds clamped down soon after and the Busters' offense stalled.
The T-birds went on a 13-5 run in the next seven minutes on the back of forward Jayna Smith, who scored six-straight points in the paint for the T-birds, taking advantage of Zantaya Davis' assignment on the T-birds' other big post, Jordyn Alexander.
"Their best post player, one of the best post players in the conference is Jordyn Alexander," Salazar said, "So we had to make a decision very early on, and that is, 'do we want Z (Davis) to take away Alexander or do we want her to take away Jayna?"
The decision was for Zantaya Davis to guard Alexander as she and the rest of the Busters held Alexander to just six points.
However, Smith finished with a game-high 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting.
It didn't, and the Busters improved their record to 15-11 and 7-4 in the KJCCC, slotting Salazar's squad firmly in third place in the West behind Hutchinson (11-0) and Seward County (8-3).
The Busters will try to climb the standings in their next game at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Pratt (18-9, 5-6).
Cloud County (15-11, 6-5) — Duncan 4-13 0-0 12, Smith 6-9 5-6 17, Pagrode 4-7 2-2 10, Nittler 4-12 2-2 12, Alexander 3-6 0-1 6, Steppe 1-3 0-1 2, McCall 1-3 0-2 2, Hileman 1-2 0-0 2, Lindshield 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 24-56 9-14 63.
Garden City (15-11, 7-4) — S Davis 5-10 2-2 14, Z Davis 4-9 0-0 8, Morri 3-9 5-8 12, Chisom 2-10 0-0 4, Collins 4-11 2-2 11, Spann 3-4 2-3 8, Inchun 1-3 0-0 3, Christmas 3-4 1-3 7. Totals 25-60 12-18 67.
Halftime--GCCC 28-25. 3-point goals--CCCC 6-16 (Duncan 4-10, Smith 0-1, Pagrode 0-1, Nittler 2-3, Steppe 0-1), GCCC 5-14 (S Davis 2-4, Morris 1-3, Chisom 0-2, Collins 1-3, Inchun 1-2). Rebounds--CCCC 26 (Smith 9), GCCC 36 (Z Davis 12). Assists--CCCC 7 (Nittler 3), GCCC 10 (Morris 3). Technical fouls--none. Fouled out--none. Total fouls--CCCC 15, GCCC 16.