In two previous meetings within the last month, the Garden City High School girls basketball team had little luck in dealing with their rival Dodge City Red Demons.
First, it was a 38-24 setback to Dodge in the seventh-place game of the Newton Invitational in late January, and then it was a 35-27 setback on the Demons’ home floor two weeks ago.
So in their third attempt at toppling their chief rival in the Western Athletic Conference, the Buffs were looking for their lucky charm at The Garden on Senior Night and Pink Out Night.
But things didn’t roll the Buffs’ direction for the third time, and Dodge City somehow won a game that looked like neither team should come out on top.
Final: Dodge City 33, Garden City 29.
The loss dropped the Buffs to 5-13 overall and 1-5 in the WAC while the Demons improved to 9-8 and 3-2.
The game was close throughout, with the teams knotted at 17-all after three quarters, and then the two combined to score almost as many points in the final eight minutes as the teams had done in the first 24 minutes.
“It was an ugly game,” said GCHS head coach Matt Pfeifer. “It was tied quite a bit, and at times it just looked like we didn’t want this as much as Dodge.”
Pfeifer said that not getting to loose balls and long rebounds were the little things that determined the final outcome.
Dodge’s biggest lead in the final quarter was 27-22 with 1:47 left, and senior Josie Calzonetti did everything she could do to give the Buffs a chance to win the game.
After a Felicity Rodriguez driving layup with 1:37 remaining, Calzonetti hit a nifty bank shot at the 36-second mark to trim the deficit to just a single point, 29-28.
But the Demons cashed in four big free throws in the final 16 seconds, two each by Kisa Unruh (7 of 8 for the game) and Chidera Okoro, who had missed her first five charities.
“They just made the necessary plays at the end, and we didn’t and that was it,” Pfeifer said.
The Buffs’ coach said his team didn’t transition to the offensive end of the floor as well as he would have liked.
“We didn’t push the ball enough and didn’t get the easy shots that we would have liked,” Pfeifer said.
Calzonetti led the Buffs with 11 points and was the only double-figure scorer. Okoro led the Demons with 13 points and Unruh, just a freshman, tacked on 11. In the last two games between the teams, Unruh has made 16-of-18 free throws.
As they had done in the first two matchups, the first half was low scoring, nearly as many turnovers as points and both teams struggling mightily on the offensive end.
Dodge City had a slender 6-5 lead after one quarter, and then it was the Okero making an impact in the second quarter, scoring all eight of her teams’ points.
That was good enough for the four-point spread at the break.
The Buffs have two road games to finish out the regular season and will head to Hays for a 6 p.m. Friday tipoff against the Indians, who are co-leaders at 4-1 with Liberal in the WAC title chase.