By one stat-based rating, the Garden City Broncbusters women’s basketball team was supposed to beat Colby by 35 points.
After all, the Trojans came to Garden City’s Conestoga Arena on Saturday afternoon with just five wins all season and were coming off an 82-point blowout loss, while the Busters had won seven of their last eight games. And yet, the Colby bench was celebrating deep into the fourth quarter as 3-pointers started to go down, and the Trojans were pushing the Busters to the brink. But thanks to a bit of luck, dominating the rebounding battle and a couple of key defensive stops, the Busters survived the upset bid, winning 54-49.
“This game was supposed to be, basically, like a blowout game,” GCCC sophomore guard Jada Washington said, as the Busters improved to 19-10 overall and 16-9 in the KJCCC ahead of Monday’s regular season finale against first-place Seward County. “This game was supposed to prepare us for Monday.”
But the Busters nearly got caught looking ahead as they struggled against Colby’s varied zone defenses, and a 2-2-1 zone press that resulted in steals and easy buckets for the usually offensively-challenged Trojans.
Colby came into the game averaging just 49 points per game, and the Busters pride themselves on being one of the best defensive units in the conference — and, statistically, they have been perhaps the best defensive unit over the past month.
But the Buster offense might have been even worse, scoring just 0.86 points per possession against a defense that came into the game allowing a conference-worst 0.99.
“Lack of focus,” a clearly frustrated GCCC head coach Charinee Mitchell said. “I would blame it all on a lack of focus. I told them in the locker room, ‘I hope I never, ever see this again.'”
The Busters hit just 39 percent of their shots and went 0 for 8 from deep. They were 8 of 18 from the free-throw line.
“Shots wouldn’t fall, but it was kind of, everything seemed effortless,” Mitchell said. “Everything seemed like it was half-effort. We never got into any rhythm.”
Colby, which dropped to 5-24 and 3-22, took advantage and nearly pulled off the stunner.
“We executed today,” Colby first-year head coach Shareka Manor said. “We locked down on the defensive end, slowing down their transition offense.”
After Garden City took a 14-point lead early in the third quarter, riding a 12-0 run from the second quarter and a 25-14 halftime advantage, Colby responded with a 20-8 run and got within 36-34 before the end of the quarter.
They eventually tied it at 38 early in the fourth quarter, then at 40, and once more at 42. That’s when the Busters got four-consecutive stops on defense to take a five-point lead. Colby got within 47-45 with 3:30 to play, but that’s as close as the Trojans would get.
"Everybody is mentally tired, I guess you can say,” Washington said. “Nobody had the toughness to pull through it. Thankfully, we still got the win.”
The Busters finish off the regular season with a 6 p.m. game against Seward County Monday. They also have locked up a home game to begin the Region VI tournament Thursday. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m., with the opponent to be determined late Monday night or Tuesday morning.
Contact J. Levi Burnfin at firstname.lastname@example.org.