The Garden City High School boys basketball team made its first venture into Texas in many years a successful one Friday, winning two games on the opening day of the AMA-TechTel Tournament of Champions in Canyon, Texas.
The Buffaloes toppled host Canyon High 41-32 in the nightcap semifinal battle on the Eagles home floor, after dispatching Abilene Cooper, 43-26, in a mid-morning opener.
Just six hours after claiming that first victory, the Buffs came back and responded with a solid effort in the semifinal, especially on the defensive end, limiting Canyon to single-digit scoring in three of the four quarters.
It was a tight contest early, with the Buffs leading 11-9 after the opening eight minutes and then owning a 23-15 advantage at halftime.
The Eagles had trimmed their deficit to 30-26 at the end of three quarters, but the Buffs had an 11-6 margin in the closing period to improve their mark to 2-0.
“Defensively, we played pretty well, especially in the first game,” head coach Jacy Holloway said afterward. “We’re running different things trying to figure out what we do well.”
The Buffs got 14 points from 6-4 senior post Demarcus Elliott, his second double-figure game of the day. Parker Howe led the Eagles with six points. Garret Doll led the team with six assists.
“The guys are doing a good job of throwing the ball down low, and Demarcus is doing a good job of sealing off his defender,” Holloway said. “He’s more intent at scoring this year rather than throwing the ball back outside.”
Garden City will play for the TOC title at 1:30 p.m. against the winner of Friday’s late game between Canyon Randall, Texas, and El Paso Hanks.
“They’re both really good teams, so we know it will be a challenge, but it is exciting to play for the championship,” Holloway said. “Our guys are doing a good job of passing, and looking for teammates. They’re playing well together, and we’re getting better. It’s nice to win, and improve while you’re doing that.”
Garden City 43, Abilene Cooper 26
The Buffaloes used a swarming defense that forced numerous turnovers on the part of the Cougars, taking an early 9-5 lead, building it to 22-10 at halftime and then extending it to 39-16 by the end of three periods after a 17-6 sprint.
Despite scoring only four points in the final quarter, the Buffs still were comfortably ahead the entire final eight minutes.
The Buffs got scoring from seven different players, led by 6-4 post Demarcus Elliott with 12. The dominating win came in spite of the fact that leading returning scorer Garret Doll, and returning starter Jarrod Springston, did not score. Tye Davis accounted for five assists to pace the Buffs in that category.
They made five 3-pointers, including two each by Tye Davis and Jayden Crook. Three of the treys came in that pivotal third-quarter outburst. The Buffs accounted for all their points from the field, not even attempting a free throw during the game.
Abilene Cooper’s leading scorer was junior guard Josh Henry with 9 points. Early in the fourth quarter, the Buffs’ advantage ballooned to 25 points, 43-18.