The three December home games for the Garden City High School girls basketball team had all ended with a big W for the Buffaloes.
But that was then, and Tuesday night was 2018, and what a difference a new year made, and not the way coach Matt Pfeifer would have liked.
After suffering their first loss of the season on Friday at Hays, the Liberal Redskins made amends against the Buffs, dominating from start to finish in a 45-21 Western Athletic Conference blowout at The Garden.
For the Buffs, it was their second straight setback of the new year, and dropped their season record to 3-5 overall and now 0-2 in the WAC. Liberal improved to 5-1 and 1-1.
For GCHS coach Matt Pfeifer, it was reminiscent from the games at the beginning of December.
“It was a lot of repetition of the same stuff we saw earlier in the season,” Pfeifer said. “A lot of unforced turnovers. We just get complacent with the ball instead of being aggressive with it.”
There certainly wasn’t much activity in the scoring department for the Buffs, getting only five, six, eight and two points in each of the eight-minute quarters.
Liberal, meanwhile, used the inside-outside play of Machia Mullens (11 points, nine rebounds) and Katie Horyna/Ali Lucero (11 and 10 points, respectively) to lead the Redskins to a big early lead that was never in jeopardy.
“They’re a good team, we knew that,” Pfeifer said of the Redskins, who lost a heartbreaker at Hays in their Friday WAC opener. “Some of our younger kids, we’re begging them to shoot the ball. We need them to be able to score if we’re going to compete.”
Josie Calzonetti was the lone double-figure scorer for the Buffs, finishing with 11 points.
Liberal’s zone baffled the Buffs, and it’s something Pfeifer said they will likely see during the rest of the season.
“We hadn’t seen much zone, but I know we will,” Pfeifer said. “We’re just gonna have to figure out where the gaps are, and get the ball to an open player and then have them shoot an open shot.”
It was a struggle from the start for the Buffs, falling behind early 8-1 and finishing on the short end of a 14-5 score when the first period came to a conclusion.
Things didn’t get much better in the second stanza, either, as the closest they got was that nine-point deficit, the last at 19-10.
By intermission, the score had been more than doubled by the Redskins at 28-11. Neither of the Buffs’ leading scorers — Josie Calzonetti or Beth Guymon — had made a field goal. The zone defense employed by Liberal stifled both the inside and outside shots of the two top scorers.
Garden will be back home on Friday with a 6 p.m. WAC tip-off against the Hays Indians at The Garden.