After a three-game swing into the Texas Panhandle a week earlier to begin the season, coming home was nothing short of sweet for the Garden City High School girls basketball team.
Just as they did a year ago after starting 0-3 at the Hays Shootout, the Buffs garnered their first win of the early campaign on Thursday night with a 41-33 triumph over Wichita Trinity at The Garden on opening night of the Clarion Inn Roundball Classic.
It was just the right medicine for the Buffs who had played a murderer’s row three games in two days in Canyon, Texas last Friday and Saturday.
“Last week was just a really tough group of teams, and we’ve got a whole new team, so it’s taking us a little while to get used to playing together,” said senior Josie Calzonetti, who scored a game-high 21 points. “Everybody is getting to know their roles.”
Getting the first win of the season takes pressure off the Buffs as they head into Friday and Saturday’s games with Dumas, Texas, and Scott City, respectively.
“The younger girls are just learning the speed of the varsity game, and it’s fun to see them work hard and improve,” Calzonetti said.
The third quarter proved to be the pivotal move for the Buffs, when they went from being down 25-22 early to up 33-25 thanks to an 11-0 blitz.
“We made some timely shots, and that was a big difference,” said GCHS coach Matt Pfeifer. “We got the momentum because we did a good job in transition and then executed the game plan. We’re just trying to learn how to win.”
Pfeifer said there were good things coming from the game, and yet still room for much improvement.
“We’re right there, and I just told them to go out and win the game,” Pfeifer said.
Calzonetti was the lone double-figure scorer for the Buffs but did get support from her younger sister, freshman Julie, who had nine points and six rebounds, while another freshman, Keyhanna Turner added five points and seven boards.
The Buffs finished the game hitting 26.9 percent from the field off 14-of-52 shots and were 12 of 16 from the free-throw line. They led the rebounding battle, 39-30.
Trinity got 11 points from Austin Broadie, who also had a game-high nine rebounds for the Knights.
The Knights were forced into 23 turnovers while the Buffs committed 17, but only one coming in that important third-quarter surge.
“I still think we can play better, but it’s good to get the win,” Pfeifer said.
The early season rust showed for both teams in the first half, as turnovers exceeded points for much of the opening quarter.
The Buffs led at the first break 13-8, but foul trouble plagued the hosts as no less than five players had two fouls each in the whistle-plagued opening 16 minutes.
Trinity wasn’t in much better shape as the Knights had three players with two violations each.
But the Knights found a little rhythm in the second quarter, outscoring Garden 10-4 over the final three minutes to take a 23-22 lead into the intermission.
The Buffs will host Dumas, Texas at 6 p.m. Friday in Day 2 of the Classic while Trinity heads to Holcomb to face the Longhorns in a 6 p.m. tipoff.