“Will you please block her out?”
That was the demand from visiting Allen County head coach Todd Buchanan in the first half of Garden City Community College’s women’s basketball game at Conestoga Arena Tuesday evening.
His Red Devils did not listen, or just plain could not stop the Broncbusters from dominating the offensive glass, which propelled Garden City to a 75-67 win.
“What I told my team before we saw Allen today,” GCCC head coach Charinee Mitchell recalled telling her team, “I said, ‘You’re playing somebody who is very similar to how we do things and who we are, so it’s going to boil down to the boards.’”
That it did, as the Busters — who improved to 4-3 and 2-2 — racked up 18 offensive rebounds against Allen County, including three straight in a game-clinching series late. They got seven total rebounds from Jessica Carrillo and six each from Kelcy McHenry, Daz Johnson and Kala Jones. Carrillo, McHenry and Johnson all had four on the offensive end, where the Busters actually had more rebounds than on the defensive end (15). They also out-rebounded Allen County, 33-22.
It was Johnson’s rebounding prowess that propelled the Busters to the win.
Nursing a five-point lead, Abi Green darted in front of an Allen County pass and streaked the other way on the breakaway.
Green missed the lay up, but Daz Johnson was trailing, and she got the offensive board, put it back up for two and drew the foul. Johnson missed the ensuing free throw, but Shakendra Tilley was there for the rebound, before she missed a short jumper. Once again, Johnson was there for the board, and she wouldn’t miss, giving the Busters a nine-point lead and effectively seal the win.
“When you don’t have the heart and the desire to go block somebody out and rebound, you don’t really deserve to win,” Allen County head coach Todd Buchanan said. “That was totally the difference in the game.”
Johnson led the Busters with 19 points, while Green had 18 points, chipping in four offensive boards of her own. Shakendra Tilley had 13 points.
“If we don’t come out with the most boards, then we don’t come out with the win,” Johnson said.
The Busters were in a battle with the Red Devils (3-5, 1-3) for much of the game. Early in the third quarter, the Busters and Devils were tied at 38, when Carrillo hauled in an offensive board off McHenry’s miss, and then was fouled.
That’s when Buchanan yelled his direction for his team to block out.
Carrillo missed both free throws, seemingly allowing Allen County out of the bind, but then McHenry got the offensive board and put the Busters on top 40-38, and Buchanan spiked his marker.
While the Red Devils made 50 percent of their shots in the first half and the Busters made just 37.5 percent of theirs, it was Garden City holding a 33-31 lead at the break, thanks mainly to dominating the offensive boards.
The Busters had nine in the opening half, led by Carrillo’s three.
While Allen County led by two after the first quarter, and stretched it to seven midway through the second quarter, the Busters rallied.
Green made back-to-back long jumpers, with her toe on the arc on the latter, and the Busters cut Allen County’s seven-point advantage to just two. Then nearly a minute later, Green hit another jumper to pull the Busters even at 27, and McHenry put the Busters on top, 29-27, a few possessions later on a put-back off a Green missed three-pointer.
Johnson got another offensive board and laid it back in near the end of the half, before Tamera Shaver made both of her free throws to cut the Busters’ halftime lead to 33-31.
The Busters hit the road after Thanksgiving to take on Independence at 8 p.m. Saturday in KJCCC action.