Garden City Community College’s women’s basketball team was given open looks from deep all game against visiting Hutchinson on Saturday evening.
The 12th-ranked Blue Dragons sagged off Broncbuster shooters, stopping them from being able get to the paint, and forcing them to try to hit jumpers from the outside. And they were unable to take advantage, as they dropped a 73-59 decision to the Dragons at Conestoga Arena.
“It’s smart of every team. As a staff, we’re talking about it at practice,” GCCC head coach Charinee Mitchell said of the Busters’ shooting woes. “It’s going to come … We’re so good defensively. We’ve just got to find a way to get the ball in the hole, but it’ll come. They’ll fall when it needs to.”
Hutchinson (7-2, 5-2) held the Busters (5-5, 3-4) to just 6 of 30 (20 percent) from three-point range. The Busters came into Saturday hitting just 24 percent of their shots.
And while the Hutchinson offense was not particularly sharp, struggling at times against the Busters’ trap and turning it over 17 times, the Dragons slowly inched away by stalling the Busters on the offensive end for long stretches.
When the Busters stretched their early lead to 19-14 on one of their rare made three-pointers, this one coming from Talia Roberts, the Dragons went on a 16-5 run over the next five minutes.
When Jada Washington cut a once 33-26 halftime deficit to two points with a pair of free throws, the Dragons scored the next 12 points. Then the Busters cut it back to 51-43 late in the third quarter, but the Dragons opened the final period with a 15-0 run to seal the win.
“For 36 minutes, I thought our ball club played some of their best basketball of the season,” Hutchinson head coach John Ontjes said.
The four minutes he left out were the final four of the game, when the Busters forced five Hutch turnovers and made a late-game run. The Busters celebrated a couple of three-pointers and every turnover they forced, giving Mitchell a big positive to take away from the loss.
“Most definitely. We pride ourselves on our defense,” Mitchell said. “I’d say 90 percent of the time, my kids play good D. It’s can we make shots? That’s our team right now … I enjoyed that they fought for 40 minutes.”
The opening quarter began with a Buster blitz, with Garden City defenders stifling Hutchinson and getting to every loose ball. But the amped Busters were well off on the offensive end, failing to even draw iron on early three-pointers.
Despite an early 4-0 lead, the Busters trailed 11-10 at the first break.
But Roberts sunk her first three to give the Busters a 19-14 lead, before the Busters made just a single field goal — an Aerianna Steinmetz three-pointer — over the next five minutes as Hutchinson went on a 16-5 run to take a 30-24 lead.
Dejanae Roebuck sunk a three, Coretta Hopkins laid in two-pointer and Tia Bradshaw sunk a three and then laid one in during the run.
Shakendra Tilley’s jumper from the wing stalled the Hutch run for a second, before Alicia Brown made a free throw and then a jumper just before half to give the Dragons a 33-26 advantage entering the break.
Note: Dighton High School graduate Sara Cramer got the start Hutchinson, scoring five points on 2-of-4 shooting. Cramer was The Telegram's Player of the Year in 2015 when she led her Hornets to the Class 1A-II state championship, and finished her Dighton career with more than 1,000 points.