Busters get big road win in advance of Thanksgiving Classic
By ADAM HOLT
It wasn’t the Garden City Community College men’s basketball team’s prettiest win. It wasn’t their biggest, in terms of margin, either. But Saturday’s 59-57 victory over Eastern Wyoming might have been the most important win of the season so far for the 5-2 Broncbusters.
Garden City got thumped, 75-57, by Laramie County (Wyo.) on Friday to open the Golden Eagle Classic, but rebounded the next afternoon against Eastern Wyoming.
“We really hit some adversity on Friday night, and things didn’t go well for us,” GCCC head coach Rand Chappell said. “It would have been easy for the thing to go south. I thought our guys did a real good job between the end of the game Friday night and the game Saturday, which was 18 hours apart. Listening, pulling together with each other.”
It’s the kind of win that can be important for any team, but maybe more so for Garden City, which essentially has a brand new roster following a coaching transition late in the offseason. Trust and chemistry sometimes take time to develop. Winning a tight game on the road less than a day after a big loss can help that growing process.
“We’re jelling,” point guard Frank Agholor said. “It’s a good thing, good process coming along. We’ve had a couple good wins along the way. We took a setback on a loss, and I guess, I like to learn from a loss early, so it kind of brought us closer together. We bounced back. So I think it’s going well, it’s going at the pace I thought it would.”
After holding a seven-point lead at halftime against the Lancers, the Busters got into a dogfight down the stretch, with neither team able to extend much of a lead, until a Reuben King 3-pointer gave GCCC a four-point margin in the final 90 seconds of the game. A missed Eastern Wyoming layup at the buzzer gave Garden City the two-point win.
Chappell said the game showed good character from the Busters, and served to reinforce some of the things he and assistant coach Brady Trenkle have been trying to tell the team — namely, to execute the game plan and follow the scouting report.
Chappell said some of the Busters haven’t gone through this kind of game preparation, but that they’re starting to learn and trust it.
Saturday’s game was the kind of win GCCC can build off of heading into its Thanksgiving Classic. Garden City plays Highland at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, then Trinidad State (Colo.) at the same time Saturday. Both games are at Perryman Athletic Complex.
“Most definitely, most definitely,” Agholor said of the momentum. “Everybody had to dig in deep for that win, so it’s a great thing.”
“I guess with a young group, there’s several steps to take along the way, and we took one of them on Saturday night,” Chappell said. “I think it’s huge to get that one out of the way. I guess you could have the opposite, where you lose a lot of close ones and you start to doubt. I think when you win the close ones, you start to believe.”
Highland was 4-0 heading into a game against Fort Scott on Tuesday night. The Scotties also feature 6-foot-9 L.A. Pomlee, a former Iowa State forward.
“They’ve got good size, good athleticism, and they’re gonna be a good test,” Chappell said.
Trinidad State is 5-3, and takes a three-game win streak into the Garden City event. The Trojans lost a nine-point game to Hutchinson, and in a game against the only common opponent with the Busters, beat Tabor College’s junior varsity 82-54. Garden City beat Tabor’s JV 97-65.
With a little more execution on offense and an emphasis on maintaining intensity, the Busters say they like their odds this weekend.
“I think we’ve got a great chance this weekend to come out successful,” Agholor said. “We took a big step this weekend, losing, and then bouncing back.”
And for a team that’s still getting to know itself, having a week without classes helps allow for more focus on basketball. The Thanksgiving holiday also gives the Busters a chance to work on those relationships.
“Right now, we’re probably going to Golden Corral is what it sounds like, so I don’t know how glamorous that is, or what it sounds like,” Chappell said with a laugh. “We’re all going to be together on Thanksgiving Day,