Garden City men suffer first loss, 69-56 to North Platte
By ADAM HOLT
Friday night in a win over Kingdom Prep, the Garden City Community College men's basketball team built a big lead that they ended up having to fight to protect in the end.
Saturday against North Platte, they faced a different kind of adversity — being behind by double-digits.
The Broncbusters struggled on offense and never mounted much of a response, in a 69-56 loss to the Knights in the final game of the Pepsi Classic at the Perryman Athletic Complex.
"I guess we have a young team, a lot of guys playing together for the first time," GCCC head coach Rand Chappell said his team's first loss. "To be honest, we didn't handle the adversity of behind down all that well. We got a little quick with our offense and a little frustrated, probably needed to be better decision makers."
North Platte (2-1) played tough defense, a trait they showed in frustrating No. 9 Seward County on Friday in a 61-59 loss to the Saints. The Knights clogged the lane and kept the Busters (4-1) from taking many easy shots, especially in the first half, where GCCC shot 28 percent from the field.
When the shots weren't falling, the Busters seemed to get frustrated, settling for poor or long-range attempts.
"Probably, we needed to move the ball a little better, change sides of the floor with the ball, and make them adjust," Chappell said. "We had a tendency to one-pass and drive it to the paint, and that's the easiest thing to cover in the world.
"And I think also, when you drive it to the paint, you've got to find the open man. It's hard to get it one-through-five — not that it was totally out of control, but we can definitely do a better job making decisions off our penetrations."
Chris Hall led the Busters with 18 points, going 4-of-12 from 3-point range. As a team, Garden City shot 26.9 percent from behind the arc, and 26 of their 57 field goal attempts came on 3-point tries.
Frank Agholor added 14 points, while Reuben King had 12. No other Buster had more than three points.
Trailing 29-22 at half, Garden City fell behind by double-digits with 14 minutes, 4 seconds to play, after Ethan Montvalvo hit a 3-pointer to make it 38-27. The Busters cut the deficit down to eight with 3:08 to play after a fastbreak dunk from King, and Terry Webb had a outback layup to cut it to 52-45 with 3:26 left.
But fouls were a problem for Garden City in the second half, and North Platte made 9-of-10 free throws down the stretch to help keep a comfortable lead.
"We obviously didn't make enough plays, which you have to do in that situation," Chappell said.
The Busters held the Knights to 35.8 percent shooting from the field, but North Platte went 8-of-19 from 3-point range (42.1 percent) and 23-of-30 from the free-throw line.
Tim Simmons had 17 points for the Knights, while Montvalvo added 15, and Damon Brown and Reath Jiech had 10 apiece.
The Busters shot just 7-of-16 at the free-throw line, including missing 5-of-6 down the stretch in the first half. After a pair of misses by King with 14.5 seconds to go in the first, Brown would hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to make it 22-29.
"I think the psychology of, we were down seven at the half, and to me, we missed three or four free throws that could have been there, and we gave the last 3-pointer at the buzzer," Chappell said. "You flip that around — in fact, we missed two right before they hit that — you flip that, give us those two, take that away, you're basically at a two-point, even game, and it probably changes the psychology quite a bit. I think that was an important minute of the game."
In the early game Saturday, Kingdom Prep beat Seward County, 90-88.
Garden City gets almost a week to regroup, before heading to Cheyenne, Wyo., for a game Friday against Laramie County (Wyo.) and Eastern Wyoming on Saturday.
"Obviously, with as many freshmen as we have, you're gonna face adversity and gonna face these kind of situations," Chappell said. "You hope you can adjust in the game and learn and still win. I think it's one we're just gonna have to learn one, and I think we will. I think our guys will learn from it and get better."
North Platte (2-1)—Brown 4-13 2-3 10, Montvalvo 3-12 6-6 15, Wilson 2-5 5-6 9, Jiech 1-3 8-12 10, Simmons 6-9 2-2 17, Lewis 0-3 0-0 0, Casse 2-4 0-0 6, Maslo 0-1 0-0 0, Kraemer 0-1 0-0 0, Richardson 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 19-53 23-30 69.
Garden City (4-1)—Ebondo 0-1 3-6 3, Joseph 1-3 0-0 2, Agholor 6-12 2-4 14, King 5-13 0-2 12, C. Hall 6-18 2-4 18, Webb 1-4 0-0 2, Jones 1-1 0-0 3, Bernbeck 0-2 0-0 0, K. Hall 0-2 0-0 0, Chandler 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 21-57 7-16 56.
Halftime–North Platte 29-22.
3-point goals—NP: 8-19 (Brown 0-2, Montvalvo 3-8, Simmons 3-5, Lewis 0-1,Casse 2-3), GC: 7-26 (Ebondo 0-1, Agholor 0-1, King 2-7, C. Hall 4-12, Webb 0-2, Jones 1-1, Bernbeck 0-1, K. Hall 0-1). Fouled out—Brown. Rebounds—NP: 39 (Brown 9), GC: 38 (Ebondo 7). Assists—NP: 6 (Brown 4), GC: 9 (C. Hall 3). Turnovers—NP 15, GC 17. Total fouls—NP 21, GC 23.