No. 9: GCCC women start season a program-best 14-0
Editor's Note: This is the second in a series of 10 stories counting down The Telegram's top 10 sports stories for 2012 as chosen by The Telegram staff.
By ADAM HOLT
Fourteen games. Fourteen wins.
Average margin of victory: 26.6 points. Scoring offense: 79.4 points per game, best in the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference.
In summary, it's been a good start to the season for the Garden City Community College women's basketball team.
The best start, in fact.
The Lady Broncbusters' 14-0 first half is believed to be the most successful start to a season in program history, although records are incomplete. At the very least, it's the best mark since the 2002-03 team went 12-2 in non-conference play, before capping the season with a fourth-place finish in the NJCAA tournament, and a school-record 31 wins.
That makes it the No. 9 sports story of 2012.
The undefeated first half also came as a bit of a surprise to fourth-year head coach Alaura Sharp. The feat fell somewhere between expected and unexpected.
"You're trying not to go through and figure out your wins and losses, but you'd not be honest as a coach to say that you don't think about those things when you're making your schedule," Sharp said. "Did I think it'd be a blemish-free non-conference schedule? No. But I knew we'd be competitive. And I knew that after we started scrimmaging, and seeing the pieces of the puzzle come together, that we had a chance to do some really special things."
Garden City entered the winter holiday ranked No. 11 in the nation. And while the Busters knew about their place in the polls, they weren't aware of exactly what they accomplished until after playing their last game of 2012.
"I think it was important for our team to understand what they've done for our school, and to reward them," Sharp said. "That's not usually my style, really. I'm very, 'put your nose to the ground and keep going, keep going, keep going.' They didn't even know that they had done some historical things."
The team seemed to carry the momentum it built at the end of last season, when it finished second in the division and advanced to the Region VI semifinals. Reigning KJCCC freshman of the year Tamara Jones is back, and leads the conference in scoring at 21.6 points per game. Maybe more impressive than that, her 303 total points are 61 more than anyone else in the KJCCC.
It hasn't been all Jones, though, as two fellow sophomores on the team are in the top 11 in scoring in the conference. Transfer Shicole Watts is averaging 15.1 points per game, good for fifth, and Deni Jacobs is chipping in 12.9, a fact more impressive considering she has been coming off the bench.
And, of course, it's often been the offense propelling the Busters to wins. They opened the season with an 88-50 win over Midland (Texas), then scored 84 in a win over Brown Mackie, before a season-high 106 in a victory over Oklahoma Baptist's junior varsity. Garden City has scored at least 80 points in eight games so far this season. Just four of the Busters' wins have come by a single-digit margin.
Two of those came on a weekend in mid-November. Garden City got lackadaisical wins over Trinidad State (Colo.), 69-61, and Allen, 76-70.
Sharp said the Busters knew they could do better, and realized they needed to work harder in practice to get the results they desired. They came out the next weekend in their Thanksgiving Classic and beat then-No. 14 New Mexico Junior College, 80-60, going on a 19-0 run to start the second half of that game. The next night, they beat that same Trinidad State team from the week before by 46 points.
It's that kind of hunger, Sharp said, that got the Busters through their non-conference schedule unscathed.
"It's so easy, we talk about our team being mature, but at the end of the day, they're 18, 19, 20 years old," Sharp said. "For them to be able to accept being successful, but it still not being good enough, it's hard to get young people to understand. I think it comes to the leadership of Mikell Chinn on our team. She is a very hungry individual. She is a hard worker on the floor, off the floor, in the classroom."
While they took some time to step back and appreciate what they accomplished, the Busters know the real tests will come when conference play starts Jan. 5 against Butler. Sharp said the mindset that got GCCC this far could propel the Busters even further, so long as the work gets put in.
"They talk a lot about leaving a legacy, and they talk about being successful as an individual," Sharp said. "I think that once you have those conversations going, they're starting to get it a little bit. Now it's just getting it carried over after the break."
GCCC's 14-0 start
Nov. 1 — Midland (Texas), W 88-50
Nov. 2 — Brown Mackie, W 84-57
Nov. 3 — Oklahoma Baptist JV, W 106-26
Nov. 9 — Howard (Texas), W 66-57
Nov. 10 — Frank Phillips (Texas), W 80-56
Nov. 16 — Trinidad State (Colo.), W 69-61
Nov. 17 — Allen, W 76-70
Nov. 23 — New Mexico JC, W 80-60
Nov. 24 — Trinidad State (Colo.), W 89-43
Nov. 27 — Lamar (Colo.), W 82-56
Dec. 1 — Seminole State (Okla.), W 62-50
Dec. 5 — Lamar (Colo.), W 74-52
Dec. 7 — Bethany College JV, W 85-39
Dec. 8 — NE Oklahoma, W 71-62