While most of the Region VI first round is comprised of games between familiar Jayhawk Conference opponents playing their third game against their opponent this season, the Garden City Community College women’s basketball team faces an unfamiliar foe — Northwest Kansas Tech of Goodland.
The Mavericks — in their final season as a non-member of the Jayhawk Conference — are part of Region VI, but do not play in the conference. So, to accommodate them in the region tournament, the men’s and women’s basketball teams are seeded 10th in the Region VI tournament automatically, while the Jayhawk Conference teams play 26 conference games to decide their seeds.
Since the Busters lost a seeding tiebreaker to Cloud County, they are the No. 7 seed entering the tourney, resulting in a matchup with the Mavericks at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Conestoga Arena.
“They’re a very athletic and scrappy team,” GCCC head coach Charinee Mitchell said of the matchup with the Mavericks, who are 20-10. “They’re definitely going to give us a run.”
Statistically, the Busters do have a tall challenge ahead in the Mavericks, who seemingly have an advantage in several key areas. The equalizer, however, is that the Busters’ regular season schedule — 26 conference games — is a much tougher road than the one the Mavericks are able to comprise, using a variety of NJCAA, prep and NAIA junior varsity teams as opponents.
The Busters and Mavericks do have four common opponents, Trinidad State Junior College, Otero (Tech played Otero three times), Colby and Dodge City. The Busters were 6-0 against those teams, while Tech was 4-2 (though, one of the wins was a Colby forfeit of a game the Trojans had won).
And the Massey Ratings has the Busters as 13-point favorites in the matchup.
Regardless, Mitchell sees the challenge in the Mavericks.
“They actually match up pretty equally with the athleticism,” she said. “I see my team as a very fast, get up-and-down type team. They’re the same type of team, where they’re fast, like to get up-and-down and score in transition.”
The Mavericks are led by sophomore guard Tran Brown, who is averaging 19.1 points per game on 17.1 shots per game.
“She shoots the ball a lot,” Mitchell aid. “She likes to attack. She likes to shoot the 3. She’s averaging a lot of shots compared to the rest of the team, so she kind of does everything for them.”
The Mavericks also get 14.8 points from sophomore Emerald Hart and 10.2 from Destiny Lindsey. As a team, they average 73.2 points per game, and 0.90 points per possession, slightly better than the Busters at 63.1 ppg and 0.89 ppp (in conference play).
The balanced Busters have seven scorers averaging between 10.5 ppg and 5.6, and all have had several double-digit scoring efforts.
The winner of this game advances to Monday’s quarterfinals, and will play the winner of No. 2 seed Hutchinson and No. 15 seed Pratt, who also play Thursday in Hutchinson.