There’s nothing like eliminating the stench of one of the worst games a team has played all season.
The Garden City Buffaloes boys tossed aside a 69-35 blowout loss on Tuesday at Hugoton with Friday’s 51-38 victory over Great Bend at The Garden on Homecoming night.
Nothing like returning to the Western Athletic Conference, right?
It seems like that’s what it takes for the Buffs to cure their ills this season, as they ran their WAC record to 4-1 and are now 10-7 overall. Great Bend falls to 3-13 and 1-4.
Unlike the Jan. 5 33-28 win in Great Bend, the Buffs led this game from start to finish, never trailing.
A 10-7 first-quarter lead was expanded to 24-17 by halftime, thanks in part to a pair of late 3-pointers by Jayden Crook and Kyler Lamb that offset similar treys from the Panthers’ Peyton Duvall and Dalton Miller.
Every time the Panthers looked like they were going to work themselves back into the game, the Buffs had an answer.
In the third, three times Great Bend pulled to within six, and each time, the Buffs rebuilt a shaky lead and finished the quarter up by double digits, 39-29.
Buffs’ coach Jacy Holloway said he and his staff showed the team the Hugoton film as a teaching moment, and it seemed to sink in as the Buffs were more active on defense, moved better on offense and got many good looks at the basket.
The result of that offensive movement was hitting 19-of-40 shots for a solid 47.5 percent. They were 16 of 26 (61.5 percent) inside the arc, and just 3 of 14 (21.4 percent) beyond the 3-point line.
“We moved the ball better and we weren’t afraid to shoot it tonight,” said Demarcus Elliott, who finished with a game-high 15 points off 5-of-7 shooting (also 5 of 7 at the free throw line) while pulling down a team-high seven rebounds. “We knew we couldn’t worry about that last game, and we knew we didn’t play well. Playing in the WAC is fun and it’s competitive.”
Defensively, the Buffs forced the Panthers into 18 turnovers and held them to 13-of-40 shooting (32.5 percent). That came despite the Panthers hitting seven 3-pointers (20 attempts).
“We weren’t very good offensively, and weren’t getting people to the right spots,” said a disappointed Great Bend coach Tim Brooks. “Garden played better offensively tonight than the first game. A big key was them getting Elliott going.”
Holloway said that showing his team the Hugoton film enabled the players to see that most of the issues were simply effort.
“Things got better, and I thought it was a useful tool from which they could learn,” Holloway said. “Defensively, we did a much better job of being active. Still had some lapses, but overall, it was a big improvement.”
Holloway said he was pleased with the ball movement that his motion offense utilized, giving the Buffs many good scoring looks.
“D-Mac (Demarcus) has great vision when he’s set there in the middle,” Holloway said. “When the other guys are making their hard cuts, we get good looks. He (Elliott) was a lot more aggressive offensively.”
Still without 6-3 senior sub Jarell Coleman (injury), the Buffs only went two deep on the bench, but all seven players scored, and all seven had rebounds as the Buffs barely won the rebounding battle, 28-25.
Carlos Acosta joined Elliott in double figures, finishing with 11 points and every player had three or more points and three or more rebounds.
“When we’re all involved, we do a lot of good things,” Elliott said.
For Great Bend, Alex Schremmer scored 9 points to pace the Panthers. Trent Steuder led the board stats for the Panthers with six.
The Buffs will close out their regular-season home schedule on Tuesday with a rematch from two weeks ago with Dodge City. They will finish out the WAC and regular season with road games at Hays and Liberal. Great Bend will travel to Hays for a Tuesday non-WAC game with TMP-Marian.