After a first half full of missed opportunities, the Garden City High School girls basketball team exploded on a 16-0 run to begin the second half of Friday’s game at Junction City.
The Buffaloes deployed a full-court press that aided in the Bluejays turning it over 35 times — they got off just 29 shots the entire game — as Garden City cruised to the 64-41 blowout win to enter the winter break.
“We really focused on (the press) to start the second half, and that’s when we went on that big 16-0 run,” GCHS head coach Matt Pfeifer said.
The Buffs’ press was effective in the first 24 minutes, as well, but the offense failed to convert many of the turnovers into points on the other end, leaving them up just 28-20 at intermission.
“We really should have been up 16 at halftime based on the missed lay ups off our press,” Pfeifer said. “We talked about it and if we just make lay ups, it’s entirely a different game.”
The Buffs (5-1) responded well to the halftime pep talk, turning it on against the winless Bluejays (0-6) in the second half.
Kayhana Turner quickly sunk a 2-pointer, and Julie Calzonetti hit a pair of free throws, before Elyssa Salazar drained a 3-pointer off a Junction City turnover, and the Buffs were off and running.
Felicity Rodriguez scored, Calzonetti hit another free throw and Turner hit a 2-pointer. Salazar and Turner made another two baskets each off Junction City turnovers and in less than 4 minutes the Buffs went from 28-20 to 44-20.
“We were definitely proud of the way the kids responded in the second half,” Pfeifer said.
Salazar led the Buffs with 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting, including 2 of 3 from 3-point range, continuing a recent hot streak for the senior guard.
“She’s a really confident shooter, and I think the best thing she has done has been shooting rhythm the last few games,” Pfeifer said. “She’s not really forcing any shots and just taking what the defense gives her.”
Turner added 11 for the Buffs on 5 of 7 from the floor and Rodriguez had 10 on a perfect 5 of 5. The Buffs shots 55.5 percent from the field and had just 10 turnovers.
The effort sends the Buffs into the winter break with a win; though, the week off comes at a great time, Pfeifer said.
“These last couple of days of practice, you can just tell the kids are tired,” Pfeifer said. “They had finals this week, and it’s just a lot going on for a high-schooler, so to just have a few days off, spending some time with family will re-energize them coming back.”
The Buffs are off to on off their best starts in program history, as well, which should give them plenty to continue on Jan. 4 at Great Bend, where they will open 2019 and WAC play.