It might be safe to say that nobody, but nobody, could have predicted this one.
Not the Wichita Trinity Knights, a Class 4A-II school coming off a 70-28 win on Friday against Douglass.
Nor the Garden City Buffaloes boys, who had played five days earlier in the Canyon, Texas, Tournament of Champions title game and came home with a 2-1 record.
So Thursday's nightcap between the Buffs and Knights to open the Clarion Inn Roundball Classic was a surprise.
The Knights dominated every phase of the game, beating the Buffs 57-15 at The Garden in what may well be the largest defeat in Jacy Holloway’s eight seasons of coaching.
There really wasn’t much to say after the destruction, but clearly the Knights were the better team from the opening tip-off to the final buzzer, which sounded early thanks to the merciful running clock in the fourth quarter, when Trinity owned a 49-12 advantage after three periods.
“We’ve never struggled like this before,” Holloway said afterward. “We did struggle some scoring in Canyon, but never like this one.”
Holloway said he shoulders the blame for not getting his team properly prepared, both mentally and physically.
“This one falls on me and the staff,” the former Moundridge High all-stater and Iowa State standout said. “We didn’t put our kids in good position to be effective, and that’s on me and the staff.”
It was clearly evident from the get-go that the Buffs were going to have issues, but nothing could prepare for this.
They trailed 11-4 after one quarter and things went downhill from there. Trinity was a step faster, and they were aggressive going to the basket and in rebounding.
The Knights opened the second quarter on a 13-0 burst, and the closest the Buffs would get was 26-10. At the break, it was 30-10.
Halftime did little to stem the tide, and the third quarter might have been reminiscent of watching the Titantic go down.
The Knights owned a 19-2 advantage in the third quarter, with the Buffs’ only points coming on a pair of free throws by reserve Jarell Coleman at the 3:56 mark. That would be it.
With the clock on non-stop except for timeouts, there wasn’t much chance for scoring points, and the only ones for the Buffs came on Tye Davis’ corner three with 3:01 remaining. It was the only trey in 12 attempts for the Buffs, who also managed only 6-of-32 shooting for a paltry 18.8 percent. Adding to the misery was only two free throws attempted for the entire game.
“They ran a 1-1-3 zone that resembles the same zone Hays runs against us, and we always struggle with them,” Holloway said of Trinity’s active zone. “We weren’t aggressive to get the ball inside, and then we didn’t do much on defense to stop them either.”
As futile as the Buffs’ offense was, the Trinity offense was just as efficient.
The Knights went 22 of 40 for a blistering 55 percent, including 7 of 17 from behind the arc for 41.1 percent. Turnovers were another issue, too, with the Buffs coughing up the ball 20 times to 14 for the Knights. And to add insult to injury, the Buffs were out-rebounded by a 34-13 margin. Reserve Derrick Sexton led the way with five boards. Sexton and Garret Doll had four points apiece.
Trinity got 16 points from Nate Adler, who was 4 for 4 from three-point range and Chason Linder added 10. Ten different players scored for the Knights.
There’s little time to correct what happened as the Buffs will face Dumas, Texas, at 7:30 p.m. Friday on the middle day of the three-day Classic.
“We’ve got an hour shoot-around tomorrow, so we’ll get back to the basics, and try to just put this one away,” Holloway said. “Certainly, we’re a better team than we showed tonight.”