Usually during a Garden City Broncbuster men’s basketball game, head coach Brady Trenkle’s booming voice can be heard echoing off the walls.
On Saturday afternoon at Conestoga Arena, Trenkle was eerily silent for the second half against visiting Dodge City. There was nothing left to say in the midst of an 87-70 blowout loss to the western Kansas rivals.
The Busters got run off of their own court by the Conquistadors, and never really threatened to rally, despite going to the free-throw line a whopping 45 times. They missed 19 of those free-throw attempts.
“I really don’t know,” an exasperated Trenkle said afterwards, as the Busters dropped to 15-8 overall and 11-8 in the KJCCC. “I think everybody goes through things like this. We knew they (Conqs) were playing well.”
The usually hot-shooting Busters were seemingly shooting at a basket the size of a golf ball, going 21 of 54 from the field and just two of 12 from 3-point range. Early in the second half, when the Busters needed to spark a comeback attempt, nothing would fall.
Pierre Johnson crossed over to his left and accelerated past his defender, getting to the rim for a layup only to miss.
Kendale Hampton’s front-end free throw barely drew rim.
Jamir Thomas powered through defenders’ arms, but his short layup attempt bounced off the back rim and out for a Dodge City rebound, which was the norm for a game in which the Busters had a height advantage at every position nearly the entire game. The Conqs out-rebounded Garden City, 40-30, and had 10 offensive boards to the Busters’ eight.
It was the worst loss for the Busters this season as they drop to 4-5 in the KJCCC at home. It was Garden City’s largest margin of defeat since Dec. 3, 2016, when they lost to Hutchinson, and worst loss to Dodge City since Feb. 23, 2013 (a 64-45 defeat).
And while the Busters were ice cold, the Conqs (8-15, 6-13) turned into the Warriors, or at least Dayton McGroarty did as the sophomore from Dodge City was 5 of 6 from 3-point range, including going a perfect 4 for 4 in the first half. He finished with a season-high 24 points and nine rebounds, and the Conqs were 8 of 11 from deep as a team.
“We let Dodge get comfortable early, and they got going on offense,” Trenkle said. “We played so tentative on defense.”
McGroarty’s first 3-pointer of the game gave the Conqs an 11-9 lead. His second gave the Conqs their largest lead, 24-16, of the game at that point, and his third did the same at 33-22.
His fourth of the half, coming off a back screen meant just for him to get a 3-point look, sent the Conqs into the break up 40-26.
Meanwhile, the Busters were just 1 of 4 from 3-point range in the first half, and 5 of 13 from the free-throw line. Most of their offense came from Jeff Otchere in the low post, as the 6-foot-11 forward had 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting.
It wasn’t nearly enough to keep pace with the hot-shooting Conqs, though.
The Busters will try to rebound when they hit the road for a 7:30 p.m. tip against Hutchinson Wednesday.