Something, just something, had to give between the Great Bend Panthers and Garden City girls basketball teams.
Both teams came into Friday night’s Western Athletic Conference on what seemed like forever losing streaks — Great Bend at seven and Garden City at six.
On Homecoming night, though, it was the Buffs who came up with two big quarters that proved to be enough to fend off the Panthers, 48-38, and earn their first WAC win in two seasons.
After building a 23-10 halftime lead, the Buffs extended it to 32-16 before Great Bend made a run, cutting its deficit to 38-32 with 5:19 left in the game.
But the Buffs made big play after big play down the stretch, something that had plagued them during the losing streak that stretched back to Jan. 16, an overtime victory over Ulysses.
“It’s a huge relief,” said senior Josie Calzonetti, who led the way with 14 points and five rebounds. “I think we were a little angry about the losing streak, and we wanted to change things against a WAC opponent.
The teams had met Jan. 5 in Great Bend, with the Panthers winning 46-34.
“I thought we regained our composure after they made their run,” said GCHS coach Matt Pfeifer. “Being up 16 gives you a little more of a cushion, but you can’t get too comfortable.”
Pfeifer was pleased that he got contributions from a variety of players in the pivotal final five minutes.
Annie Gerber hit a driving layup and added a free throw on a traditional 3-point play early in the fourth to halt the rally, but by the 4:35 mark, the Panthers had pulled to within six, 38-32.
But Gerber cashed in a couple of free throws, Julie Calzonetti hit a nifty 12-footer on an assist from her sister, Josie, and then Keyhana Turner added a free throw and Beth Guymon a layup, and it was back up to a 13-point lead, 45-32, with 1:39 remaining.
“We talked to the kids about making big plays, and the girls did that tonight,” Pfeifer said. “They all stepped up.”
The elder Calzonetti said the Buffs just did a lot of good things.
“We were all locked in and were intense,” said Josie Calzonetti. “We knew how important this win would be.”
Guymon added 13 points for the Buffs and Gerber contributed five key points, but also led the team with eight rebounds as they held a 33-28 advantage on the boards.
Carly Brack led Great Bend (3-13, 1-4) with 11 points, but was only 3-of-11 shooting. The Panthers were shut down in the shooting department, finishing 12 of 43 for 28 percent. The Buffs, meanwhile, were 15 of 38 for 39.4 percent.
“We executed our defensive game plan a lot better, and we were able to guard their dribble hand-offs,” Pfeifer said.
For one of the few times this season, the Buffs had a breakout quarter, and in this one, it was the second.
After a low-scoring start, with the Buffs holding a 6-5 margin at the end of one quarter, they outscored the Panthers 17-6 in the second, with three different players draining a 3-point bucket — Felicity Rodriguez, Guymon andCalzonetti.
That propelled the Buffs into what was a commanding 23-10 halftime advantage.
The Buffs will return home on Tuesday for their final regular season home game against rival Dodge City at 6 p.m.