Just days after upsetting Coffeyville on the road to open the 2018 slate, the Garden City Broncbusters women’s basketball team hosted struggling and short-handed Neosho County.
But without a day off in nearly two weeks, the Busters were sluggish, as evidenced by a 1 for 12 day from three-point range at Conestoga Arena on Saturday afternoon. Still, they were able to hold onto a 63-53 win over the Panthers, who were without leading scorer Erica Birch due to injury.
“We haven’t had a break since we’ve been back (on campus) on the 27th (of December),” sophomore guard Jada Washington said as the Busters improved to 9-6 overall and 6-5 in the KJCCC after the two wins to begin the 2018 slate. “Everybody’s been real tired, and we just had to find a way to push through it.”
Even in the absence of the 6-foot-2 Birch, the Panthers continued to try to attack the Busters’ posts early, to no avail. The Busters denied entry passes and held Neosho’s other big post, Don’Tajah Jones to no points in the opening quarter, helping Garden City take a 14-8 advantage at the end of the first period.
In the second quarter, the Busters opened a lead of as many as 11, getting out in transition and out-running the Panthers. But GCCC could not extend the lead past that, with the quick-strike offense stalling in the half court, allowing the Panthers to remain within striking distance. They cut the double-digit lead to just three twice in the third period.
“As coaches, we knew we’d be tired coming in,” head coach Charinee Mitchell said. “We just had to get them the energy to push through.”
The Busters pushed the lead back up in the final minutes of the third, getting back-to-back mid-range jumpers from Kala Jones, and then a Jada Washington layup in transition off a missed Neosho three-pointer to make it 48-38 entering the fourth.
“That just kind of gave us some momentum,” Mitchell said. “We got some people contributing that may not normally contribute.”
Neosho got it back down to five on Dequandra Lyles’ layup early in the fourth, but Washington got back-to-back transition layups, and the Busters held Neosho at arm’s length from there.
“At Coffeyville (Wednesday), we had to play hard for that win,” Mitchell said. “We pressed, both half and full, and then we turn around and play a three-point shooting team that we have to sprint out to and make them put the ball on the floor. So, it really is just a tough situation.”
Washington finished with 13 points for the Busters, while Shakendra Tilley had a game-high 15 points. She also added 10 rebounds for her second double-double of the year. Five of those boards came on the offensive end, where the Busters dominated the glass, hauling in 17 offensive boards, converting those into 17 second-chance points.
Neosho was led by Beth Hawkins’ 14 points on four three-pointers.
The Busters hit the road for a short trip to Colby at 6 p.m. on Wednesday for their next game.