Busters can't stop Grizzlies
By ADAM HOLT
The biggest takeaway for the Broncbusters after their first conference game, a 76-55 home loss on Saturday to Butler?
They've got a ways to go if they want to compete in the Jayhawk West.
The Garden City Community College men's basketball team dug itself a 20-point hole, showed brief signs of life late, but struggled against a Butler team that used an aggressive press and hit some big shots.
Simply put, the Busters needed to be tougher, so says GCCC coach Rand Chappell.
"I thought our guys emotionally came out pretty ready to play," Chappell said. "But, whether it's youth or inexperience, the toughness wasn't quite there. I think the energy and enthusiasm was there, but the toughness wasn't."
Freshman forward Jade Cathey, who became eligible at the beginning of the semester, didn't think Garden City dealt well with being down.
"I felt we coulda come back," he said. "I felt we should have won the game. Everybody just gave up. I think if we wouldn't have gave up, we could have won that game."
Garden City went into halftime down eight, but with 11 minutes, 23 seconds left, an Eric Watson 3-pointer made it a 56-33 lead for Butler.
But the Busters hung around, narrowing the gap when Chris Hall got hot after an 0-for-10 start from the field. An emphatic dunk from Cathey, and a 1-of-2 performance by the Liberal native at the free throw line shortly afterward, and it was 61-49 with 4:06 to play.
Larry Fitzgerald answered with a 3-pointer for the Grizzlies, and they added a couple more points on free throws after Cathey was called for a technical foul.
From there, Butler built the lead back up to 20, and there was little excitement the rest of the way.
Garden City struggled on offense again, shooting 29.1 percent from the field and 16.7 percent from 3-point range (3-of-18). The Busters also struggled against an aggressive Grizzlies press, and committed a number of turnovers after getting trapped in it.
Garden City worked on it in practice, but Chappell didn't think GCCC handled the press well.
"Obviously poorly," he said of handling the press. "We felt like if we could take care of the ball and not turn it over, and give them easy things, we would have a chance to win the game. And I think that would have been true. We just gave them too many easy baskets against the press."
It didn't help that the trio of Hall, Frank Agholor and Reuben King struggled mightily from the field. The three accounted for nearly 60 percent of the team's field goal attempts in the first half of the season, and did the same Saturday. Agholor was 0-of-7, Hall 4-of-16 and King 2-of-6. Agholor didn't get his first points until hitting a pair of late free throws.
"I thought we just made a lot of bad decisions, as far as quick shots, contested shots," Chappell said. "I've gotta do a better job coaching them, but they've gotta be a little smarter and sounder with things."
Butler had four players in double figures, led by Watson's game-high 20 points. Sean Osler added 17, while Trent Richardson had 12 and Bakari Triggs had 10.
Cathey was one of the lone bright spots for the Busters, scoring 18 points in his debut, going 5-of-9 from the field and 8-of-11 at the line.
"I felt good," Cathey said. "I just really came out and tried to win. I just wanted us to win — that's all I wanted, out of anything."
Chappell said he thinks Cathey can help give some consistency to a young Busters frontcourt.
"It was great to have him out there," Chappell said. "I thought he played with a lot of energy. His numbers looked good. but I thought as much as anything, I saw him dive all-out for a couple balls on the floor. His hustle and energy, hopefully that will become contagious for everybody."
The Busters are now 8-7 overall and 0-1 in the KJCCC. Butler improves to 13-2 and 1-0. Garden is right back in action at 7:30 p.m. today when they travel to Hutchinson to face the No. 4 team in the nation.
Notes: Chappell added Denny Mortimer to his coaching staff as an assistant. While it's an unpaid position, Chappell said he's excited to have Mortimer on board, and that he'll help a lot with recruiting.
Butler (76) — B. Triggs 4-8 0-0 10, S. Triggs 1-5 0-0 2, Goodwin 1-3 0-0 2, Watson 8-12 0-1 20, Osler 5-9 5-6 17, Bradshaw 0-1 0-0 0, Williams 2-5 2-2 6, Richardson 4-7 3-5 12, Fitzgerald 2-5 2-2 7. Totals 27-55 12-16 76.
Garden City (55) — Ebondo 1-3 2-4 4, Joseph 3-7 1-4 7, Agholor 0-7 2-2 2, Bernbeck 1-4 4-4 6, Hall 4-16 3-5 13, King 2-6 0-0 5, Curran 0-3 0-0 0, Cathey 5-9 8-11 18. Totals 16-55 20-30 55.
Halftime--Butler 33-27. 3-point goals--B 10-21 (B. Triggs 2-3, S. Triggs 0-1, Watson 4-5, Osler 2-5, Bradshaw 0-1, Williams 0-1, Richardson 1-1, Fitzgerald 1-4), GC 3-18 (Hall 2-9, King 1-3, Agholor 0-1 Curran 0-3, Bernbeck 0-2). Rebounds--B 33 (Richardson 6), GC 40 (Ebondo 11). Assists--B 16 (Williams 4), GC 3 (Cathey 1, Ebondo 1, Agholor 1). Turnovers--B 18, GC 20. Fouled out--B Madrid-Andrews; GC Agholor. Technical fouls--S. Triggs, Agholor, B. Triggs, Cathey. Total fouls--B 25, GC 19.