Busters overcome slow start in OT victory
By KEVIN THOMPSON
Black Friday almost took on another, more ominous meaning for the Broncbusters.
Garden City overcame an abysmal first half to defeat the Highland Scotties 83-78 in overtime to finish off the first day of the Thanksgiving Classic at the Perryman Athletic Complex.
Frank Agholor waited until the second half to get into the score book, but he made sure his presence was felt in that stretch.
Agholor scored all 24 of his points after halftime, while Chris Hall scored 15 of his game-high 29 in that same period to pace the Busters to the win.
In overtime, Hall's eighth 3-pointer of the night gave the Busters an early lead and Agholor finished the extra period with 5-of-6 free throws.
The Garden City defense held the Scotties to just three scores on 11 trips in the extra frame to seal the win.
Garden City was down 24-21 at halftime, and coach Rand Chappell felt fortunate the gap wasn't wider.
"It's probably backwards to say, but we may have won the game in the first half by staying close and battling and playing defense," he said. "We came out in the second half and started making a bunch of shots."
That first half was abnormal by Busters' standards. They took 19 trips down the floor before making their first field goal with 9 minutes remaining, but the Scotties were only up 13-5 at that point.
In that stretch, the Busters were just 1-of-14 from the floor, so the damage could have been worse.
Hall had 14 of Garden City's first-half points, as Agholor was hampered by two fouls. But a different team took the floor after halftime.
The Busters scored on 14 of their first 20 trips down the floor, building a 10-point lead at the 13:22 mark.
But the Scotties kept pace, tying the game at 52 at 8:49.
Joe Ebondo stuck back an offensive board to put the Busters up 54-52. Kris Smith answered to tie it again, but Mike Chandler's free throws and Hall's 3-pointer opened the lead to five, then to seven on free throws.
The Scotties came back again, tying the game at 68-68 on a Smith jumper after a Garden City turnover.
Reuben King stuck back a rebound to give the Busters the lead. But with 1:08 L.A. Pomlee hit a pair of free throws for the fourth tie of the half, and after an Agholor miss, Highland got the ball back with 46 seconds remaining. But Hall forced the turnover with 38 seconds left and a fresh shot clock.
Garden City called a time out with 13.1 seconds left, and Agholor scored on a dunk on the inbounds play.
Jaleni Neely drove the lane — and perhaps got away with stepping on the sideline — and hit a layup at the buzzer to send the game to overtime.
Chappell thought they'd closed out the win in regulation, but the no-call on the final drive proved costly for a moment. The defensive effort in overtime, however, made up for that.
Garden City won the battle on the boards, 52-38, and that was a key to getting back into the game, despite the lackluster start, Chappell said.
"No question, in a game that close, when you win (the boards) by 14, that was one of the key factors," Chappell said.
Garden City finished at 40 percent from the floor (27-of-68), a far cry from the first 12 minutes. But that early funk was concerning, Chappell said.
"We settled from some long, quick shots early. We've got some good shooters, but we've got to get to the basket and get some free throws. We got into some foul trouble. We were just out of rhythm, period," he explained.
Hall gave the team a lift to end the first half, closing with two of his eight threes to pull the Busters close, and that was a huge part of Garden City coming out strong in the second half, Chappell said.
It's just something he hopes works itself out, he added, as the team strives toward more balanced scoring.
No other Buster finished in double figures in what proved to be an unusual game.
"It was a wild one. There were a lot of ebbs and flows throughout the game," Chappell said. "But it's part of the growing process."
That process will be tested again as the Busters (6-2) face Trinidad State (Colo.) tonight at 7:30 p.m. Trinidad State lost to Colby in the early men's game, 65-63. Colby will face Highland at 3:30 p.m.
Highland (4-2)--Smith 7-20 2-3 16, Neely 5-10 3-3 13, Pomlee 2-4 4-6 8, Collins 1-14 6-6 8, Young 1-2 0-0 2, Fultz 2-3 2-4 6, Ellis 1-4 2-2 5, Walker 7-10 4-5 20. Totals: 26-69 23-29 78.
Garden City (6-2)--Joseph 2-7 1-3 5, Agholor 7-14 9-11 24, King 4-9 0-0 9, Jones 1-4 4-4 6, C. Hall 10-22 1-2 29, Ebondo 3-7 2-2 8, Chandler 0-1 2-2 2. Totals: 27-68 19-24 83.
Halftime--Highland 24-Garden City 21. Regulation--Garden City 72-Highland 72. 3-point goals--H: 3-16 Ellis 1-3, Walker 2-3); GC: 10-28 (Agholor 1-4, C Hall 8-18, King 1-4). Fouled out--none. Rebounds--H: 38 (Walker 9, King 6); GC: 52 (King 9, Jones 9, Ebondo 9). Assists--Highland 5 (Neeley 2, Young 2); GC: 11 (Jones 4). Turnovers--Highland 14, GC: 21. Total fouls--H: 22, GC: 25.