Three full, 32-minute basketball games in just a little more than 24 hours finally took a toll on the Garden City Buffaloes boys basketball team on Saturday afternoon.

The Buffs fell to El Paso Hanks 56-44 in the championship game of the Canyon, Texas Tournament of Champions, but came home with a 2-1 record and a lot of positives.

“We played three different teams with three different styles of games, so I think it will help prepare us for a combination of things we’ll likely see during the season,” GCHS head coach Jacy Holloway said on Sunday. “Our posts (Demarcus Elliott and Derrick Sexton) played well, and we used our size a lot more than I can remember in a long time, if ever since I’ve been here.”

Elliott, 6-4, shared scoring honors in the title game with Jarrod Springston with 11 points, coming on the heels of 12 and 14 point efforts in Friday’s opening two-game salvo.

“We were just much better and getting the ball to them down on the low blocks,” Holloway said. “But the one thing we need to do, and I know we’re capable of it, is to shoot the ball better overall.”

Defensively, Holloway said the Buffs mixed things up depending on which opponent they were facing, using a variety of zones and then man-to-man pressure with some half- and full-court zones thrown in.

“We wanted to see what we had, and we used a number of different rotations to see how people would play together,” Holloway said. “I think Saturday, we just got tired and our legs went.”

The Buffs trailed throughout much of the game, falling behind at the quarter stops by scores of 14-8, 28-21 and 47-37. Late in the third and early in the fourth quarter, the Buffs trimmed the deficit to single digits, but couldn’t get over the hump against the Knights.

“Every time we made a run, they’d come back and had an answer,” Holloway said of Hanks. “We got tired, so I know we’ll work on our conditioning more this week. And when we got tired, we didn’t do as good a job of communicating on defense, so that’s something else that needs to be improved.”

El Paso was paced by Kyle Malone’s 18 points, which included five three-pointers. Ernie Montoya and Jason Fernandez added 14 and 10 points, respectively, to the winning effort.

The Buffs got scoring to some degree from between seven and nine players in each of the three games, and it will be that depth that Holloway will look to see improve as they prepare for the upcoming Clarion Inn Roundball Classic that tips off on Thursday.

The Buffs will open at 7:30 p.m. Thursday against Wichita Trinity at The Garden, followed by a 7:30 p.m. Friday match against Dumas, Texas, and then will conclude the Classic with a 7:45 p.m. Saturday battle with the Scott City Beavers.

In following the now-established schedule of the Classic, the Buffs will alternate the final game Saturday between Scott City and Holcomb on alternating years.

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