GCCC women overcome slow start, top Cloud in 2OT
By ADAM HOLT
It wasn't a lucky win, but it sure was fortunate.
After an atrocious offensive performance in the first half — and some of the second — the No. 16-ranked Garden City Community College women's basketball team kicked and clawed its way to a 76-68 double-overtime win over Cloud County on Saturday at Perryman Athletic Complex.
Down by seven with 6 minutes, 24 seconds left in regulation, Garden City stayed collected and started hitting shots when it mattered.
"I thought when they got up, what'd they get up, six or seven in the second half, I thought the way we were struggling to score, shooting 19 percent at halftime, I thought that we stepped up, and we just found a way," GCCC head coach Alaura Sharp said. "Somehow, someway, we found a way. The last thing I said in my pregame today was, bottom line is, we gotta find a way."
The Lady Broncbusters were 6-of-31 from the field at halftime, and leading scorer Tamara Jones started 2-of-16 from the field, as GCCC missed shots from just about everywhere on the court.
Jones admitted she became hesitant to shoot after that start, and that she hasn't started a game that poorly in her life.
"I do not think so," she said. "And it was horrible."
But as several adages go, the good players find a way to matter when it counts.
With Deni Jacobs and Mikell Chinn acting as steadying presences with several Busters struggling, Jones and Tahlia Pope got going with the game on the line.
Jones scored seven points in the final 2:01 of regulation, including her only 3-pointer of the game in seven attempts with 1:01 to play ? with the shot clock expiring ? giving Garden City a 52-50 lead.
"I felt very pressured," Jones said. "But I had to do what I had to do."
"She says that, but she's good in crunches," Jacobs added.
The Lady Thunderbirds (19-8, 9-4) got a couple big plays from one of their sophomores, as Aleesha Coulter hit a 3-pointer with about 13 seconds left in regulation to tie it at 54 and force overtime, then another with 29.1 in the first overtime to tie it at 61 and send the game to a second extra period.
But Garden City (25-3, 11-3) asserted itself down the stretch, and with under 1:30 to play in the second overtime, the Busters had a 69-65 lead, and Cloud was forced to foul.
Jones had 11 in the two overtimes to finish with 29 points, and Pope had six points in the two extra periods to score 13, her fourth straight game in double figures. Chinn was 5-of-6 at the free throw line in extra time to finish with 13, while Jacobs had 15, and at times, was the only Buster who could get anything going during regulation.
Two first-half fouls left Jacobs on the bench for about half of the first, which contributed to the scoring slump.
"We really missed her in the first half," Sharp said. "She had some nice plays. She started off really slow, I subbed her right away. She went back in, got herself going, got a big offensive rebound in the first half. Then she got that second foul. Energy, defense, baskets."
"I depend on TJ for just, the buckets in the serious times," Jacobs said. "So I feel like it's my job, if the team's in a slump, to help them get out. So I just do all I can."
Jacobs added 10 rebounds for a double-double, and Jones had 12 for her fifth double-double in a row. Nicole Young played strong post defense, and had a game-high 15 rebounds.
Pearlrae Thomas and Megan Stagner led the T-Birds with 13 points each. Stagner entered the game averaging just 3.2 points per contest. Jordan Alexander added 11, and Coulter had eight.
It was an ugly game early, as Cloud County took a 19-16 lead at the break. Garden City shot just 6-of-31 from the field (19.4 percent), including 0-of-7 on what were mostly wide open 3-point tries, while Cloud County turned the ball over 11 times.
Garden City had just six points in the final 10 minutes of the half, on two field goals and 2-of-5 shooting at the free throw line.
Down 6-0 after the first 3 and a half minutes of the game, the Busters scored the next 10 points of the game in a span of four minutes, and went on a 13-1 run to take a 13-7 lead with 8:03 remaining in the half.
The victory moved Garden City's win streak to five, but more importantly, puts it at 11-3 in KJCCC play, and was crucial in the race for second in the division behind 12-1 Hutchinson. Cloud County dropped to 9-4 in KJCCC play, and Seward County, which beat Dodge City, moved up to 10-3. The Busters still play at Seward County at 6 p.m. Wednesday and then host Dodge City. But both the T-Birds and Saints still have to play Hutchinson and Butler (9-4).
"But that doesn't mean we can go to Seward and not play," Jones said. "We still have to win those two games."
Cloud County (68) ? Ford 2-6 0-0 5, Smith 0-2 0-1 0, Coulter 3-7 0-0 8, Thomas 3-8 7-8 13, Alexander 3-9 5-9 11, Mason 2-10 4-6 8, Duncan 1-3 2-4 4, Champlin 1-3 0-2 2, Stafford 2-6 0-0 4, Stagner 4-5 3-4 13. Totals 21-59 21-34 68.
Garden City (76) ? Jacobs 5-9 5-5 15, Jones 9-27 10-14 29, Young 1-7 0-0 2, Pope 3-13 7-14 13, Chinn 2-5 9-10 13, Green 0-4 0-0 0, Chisom 2-8 0-0 4. Totals ? 22-73 31-43 76.
Halftime ? Cloud County 19-16. 3-point goals ? Cloud County 5-9 (Coulter 2-4, Stagner 2-2, Ford 1-1, Smith 0-1, Duncan 0-1), Garden City 1-14 (Jones 1-7, Green 0-4, Pope 0-1, Chinn 0-1, Chisom 0-1). Fouled out ? Cloud County (Coulter, Thomas, Mason), Garden City (Jacobs). Rebounds ? Cloud County 44 (Alexander 7, Mason 7), Garden City 53 (Young 15). Assists ? Cloud County 10 (Ford 4), Garden City 12 (Chinn 7). Turnovers ? Cloud County 21, Garden City 14. Total fouls ? Cloud County 30, Garden City 22.