All 6-foot-8 of freshman Jamir Thomas’ body flew down the court on the fast break, beating the defense to the rim and the lob for an exclamation point alley-oop dunk.
But a whistle followed Thomas’ rim-rattling dunk as he swung from the rim, a technical foul. It was the second such technical the Garden City Community College basketball team earned in a 107-87 win over Sterling College JV on Wednesday night at Conestoga Arena in the Busters’ season opener.
Such is life with a young team.
“They just don’t know any better,” GCCC head coach Brady Trenkle said. “It wasn’t malicious. They’re just young.”
The technical fouls were perhaps the smallest of a few minor blemishes on the Busters’ 20-point victory.
The Busters dominated play — as expected against a NAIA junior varsity squad, although what looked like a good one — for much of the game, shooting 51.6 percent for the game, including 53.6 percent from three.
Octavius Meadows had a game-high 19 points and Russhard Cruickshank added 17 for the Busters. Jamir Thomas had 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting, adding six rebounds, two assists and a block. Pierre Johnson had 14 points and three dimes, and Kendale Hampton had 11 points, the fifth and final Buster with double-digit points.
“We shot it well and we played hard,” Trenkle said of what he thought was an overall solid performance.
But the issues were there, especially on defense, where the Busters struggled to guard the three-point line. Sterling hit 15 treys on 28 attempts, including 11 in the first half.
Cameron Bluitt — who is listed on Sterling’s varsity roster on the Warriors’ website — led with 19 points on 7-of-16 shooting. Keith Price had 12 points on 4 of 6 from deep.
The Warriors’ first six buckets were three-pointers, and they led 9-5 early and were tied at 20, before the Busters got going, sparked by sophomore Theo Holloway's dunk to put the Busters on top 24-20. Holloway was also whistled for a technical for hanging on the rim, but Sterling missed the free throw and the Busters went on a 17-1 run. They led by as many as 22 midway through the first half, but the Warriors cut it back down to single digits with long balls again.
They took advantage of a Buster defense that struggled in transition, allowing open shooters with alarming frequency.
“Horrible, horrible,” Trenkle said. “In this league, you’re going to get eaten up if you can’t stop transition.”
And yet, the result and the performance was about what could be expected from a team with 10 freshmen.
“This is a process when you have this many young guys,” Trenkle said. “Everything is so new.”
One example of the newness Trenkle referenced was the newly remodeled Conestoga Arena, which hosted its first official basketball game. The arena will also be home to the Buster Shootout this weekend, with games set to tip at 2 p.m. Friday. The Buster women play at 6 p.m. against Trinidad State (Colo.) and the men play Cedar Valley College (Texas) at 8 p.m.