To celebrate the short-lived non-conference season, the Garden City Broncbusters men’s basketball team had a block party.
Kansas Wesleyan JV was the honored guest on Tuesday night at Conestoga Arena, with the Busters racking up nine blocks en route to a 97-75 victory in their final tuneup before opening the KJCCC slate Saturday.
And defense was the focus of the Busters’ practices this last week, with a promising Butler squad looming in El Dorado.
“It was just mainly defense,” sophomore Theo Holloway said, after his 13 points helped pave the way to Tuesday’s win and finish the non-conference at 4-0. “Because in conference, we’re going to play teams just like us, that are going to run on the break, so we’ve got to play defense. That’s how we’re going to win.”
Transition defense, stopping the ball, was the particular focus, after the Busters allowed a handful of three-pointers in fast break attacks by Sterling College in the season opener.
Holloway said the Busters have seen immense progress there since.
“Since that game, definitely, just because after that game, that’s all we’ve practiced,” Holloway said. “He made us practice transition defense the whole practice.”
GCCC head coach Brady Trenkle echoed his player.
“I think the last three (games) have been better,” he said. “Sunrise (Christian) is not a transition team, but we didn’t give them a chance in the second half to get in it. And Cedar Vally is a transition team, and we took them out of it.”
And Kansas Wesleyan struggled to get points in transition, as well — though, the Coyotes did hit 10 of their 18 three-pointers. But they never threatened the Busters, either, only once in front early at 2-0.
With the score 21-17 midway through the first, Logan Miller hit a trey for the Busters, and then hit another one a few possessions later to make it 27-17. Elvis Harvey dropped in a lay up and Jeff Otchere scored on an offensive rebound and putback.
Then Holloway made a mid-range jumper, and the Busters were up 39-20 late in the half, after an 18-3 run. From there, the Coyotes were never within single digits again.
Holloway, Harvey and Otchere each led the Busters with 14 points, followed by Jamir Thomas’ 13 points, adding in 11 boards for a double-double. He also had four assists from his center position.
Otchere added four blocks to his season total, which is a conference-leading 19 after four games.
The Busters shot 53.8 percent from the field and made 20 of their 24 free throws. Wesleyan shot 40.7 percent and was 17 of 18 from the stripe. Jakobe Wiley led the Coyotes off the bench with 17 points, going 3 of 4 from deep.
Now, the Busters face the test of conference play, with the Grizzlies of Butler up first. Butler was picked in the preseason coaches poll to finish third in the KJCCC, with Garden City fifth.
The Grizzlies are 2-0 so far, with a pair of blowout wins over NAIA schools’ JV teams. They scored 130 and 137 points, respectively. They play Hesston Wednesday night.
“It’s a good opening road game for us. I’m excited about it,” Trenkle said. “Butler has a lot of new guys, and we watched them scrimmage down in Dallas, and I was impressed.”
That game is set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday.