The Garden City Community College men’s basketball team enters this year’s Region VI tournament as the fifth seed, its best seed since 2005.
Even the 2009 NJCAA national tournament qualifying Broncbuster team was a seventh seed. That’s the accomplishment of this year’s Busters, who finished the regular season at 19-11 overall and 15-11 in the KJCCC.
Their reward? Play the hottest team in the bottom half of the KJCCC — Allen County.
“They’re playing really well, really well right now,” GCCC head coach Brady Trenkle said of the 12th-seeded Red Devils. “They’re shooting the ball well, and they’re playing really fast. They’re playing about as well as they have all year.”
The Busters and Red Devils (10-20, 8-28) square off in the first round of the region tournament at 8 p.m. Thursday at Conestoga Arena, where the Busters will look to advance to the regional quarterfinals for just the second time since 2011 — they reached the quarterfinals in 2016.
Allen County has won four straight, after beginning the conference season at 4-18. The Devils moved up from last place in the KJCCC on Feb. 17 to the 12th seed during the winning streak, which included a win over second-seeded Hutchinson. The Red Devils hit 17-of-32 3-pointers in the upset of the Blue Dragons.
“We’re going to have to come out and defend,” Trenkle said. “They are shooting the ball so well right now.”
The Devils also hit 15-of-30 3-pointers in a 122-104 win over Pratt on Monday, averaging 95.3 points per game during the win streak.
Even before their win streak, Allen had a win at third-seed Barton earlier in the season, proving a propensity for giant-killing.
“This is a team that pretty much cost Barton and Hutch a chance at the conference title,” Trenkle said.
The Devils are led by a pair of prolific scorers, in guard Tyler Williams and forward Jordan Marshall — both sophomores.
“(Williams) is a scorer,” Trenkle said. “He can score in all facets of the game. He can shoot the 3 (38.7 percent), he can shoot the 1-2 pull-up jumper, and he can get to the rim (42.4 percent shooter overall).”
He’s leading the Devils with 15.7 points per game, followed closely behind by Jordan Marshall’s 14.7.
“Jordan is 6-7, can shoot the 3 (35.1 percent), can play off the bounce,” Trenkle said. “He’s a versatile player.”
Trenkle compared Marshall to Seward County’s Ke’Sean Davis, who had eight points in the first half against the Busters Monday, but none in the second half when the Busters’ Elvis Harvey clamped down on him as the primary defender.
“I need to get the same thing out of Elvis in this one,” Trenkle said.
The Devils are averaging 76.4 points per game in conference play, and 1.01 points per possession. The Busters — led by four scorers averaging double digits, including 3-point shooter Kendale Hampton (13.2) and post Jamir Thomas (12.9) — are racking up 75.1 points per conference game, and 1.06 ppp. Allen County is also allowing 1.13 ppp on defense, while the Busters are allowing just 1.01, behind conference defensive player of the year candidate Jeff Otchere’s conference-leading 3.8 blocks per game.
The winner of this game will advance to Sunday’s Region VI quarterfinals against the winner of Thursday’s game between No. 4 Cowley and No. 13 Neosho County. The quarterfinals will be played at Hartman Arena in Park City.