The Garden City High School girls basketball season is off to an inauspicious start.
The Buffaloes have not even tipped off the season — that comes at 6 p.m. Friday vs. Guymon, Okla. at The Garden — but they have already suffered an injury, as Monica Quintanar suffered an injured foot during practice this week and will miss the first couple weeks of the season.
Quintanar was going to be the first player off the bench for head coach Matt Pfeifer, who is entering his third season at the helm of the Buffs.
A year ago, the Buffs went 6-15, ending their season in the sub-state semifinals in a 46-43 loss to Hutchinson. They lost Josie Calzonetti, Beth Guymon and Annie Gerber from that team, while returning two starters — Keyhana Turner and Felicity Rodriguez — and a few rotation players, who now will need to play much larger roles.
“Julie Calzonetti will go from being the sixth man or seventh man (in 2017) into being one of our high scorers this year,” Pfeifer said. “And that’s a role I think she can handle, but everybody’s going to have to grow a little bit.”
Calzonetti will start alongside Turner (4.6 points, 5.9 rebounds per game in 2017-18) and Rodriguez (3.1 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.1 steals per game), as well as Taryn Tabor (1.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg) and Elyssa Salazar, who played in five varsity games last season.
Rodriguez and Salazar will be the guards for Pfeifer, Calzonetti a wing and Turner a post, while Tabor is that crucial four-spot that can play both inside and outside, giving Pfeifer some options in his rotations.
“All her life she’s played inside, but she’s been working on her shooting, and she probably was one our better 3-point shooters in the summer,” Pfeifer said of Tabor. “We’ll definitely use her inside-out and try to create some matchups with her.”
But before any of that, Pfeifer is hoping his team can just take care of the basketball early in the year, something they failed to do early in the last two seasons.
“For all of our kids, we really preached valuing the basketball,” Pfeifer said. “So that’s what I want to see this week, those turnover numbers, to see if we’re valuing the basketball.”
The Buffs open the season Friday, before having five days off to prepare for the Clarion Inn Roundball Classic that starts Thursday, with three games in three days.
In previous years, the Buffs had played three games the opening weekend, limiting the practice time Pfeifer had to make adjustments. And each year, the Buffs went 0-3 to begin the year, before rebounding with three wins in the Classic.
Pfeifer and the Buffs are hoping for a 4-0 start to this year, if they can duplicate Classic results from last two years and down Guymon, which is 1-1 to begin its year.
“We’re just trying to get kids to compete right now and have a competitive mindset,” Pfeifer said. “We’re trying to be disciplined and mix things up (on defense), to where when we switch defenses they’re able to adjust to it.”