HAYS — It wasn’t until 2013 that the Garden City Buffaloes boys basketball team was able to win a first-round game at the Hays City Shootout at the start of a season.
So when the Buffs opened the 2014-15 season here on Thursday in the Shootout opening round with a 57-46 victory over the same TMP-Marian Monarchs team, it certainly was the way coach Jacy Holloway wanted his team’s season to get started.
The Buffs won their opener in a variety of ways.
First, they limited the Monarchs to just 16-of-43 field goals (37.2 percent), and forced TMP into 16 turnovers. The Buffs, meanwhile, connected on 18-of-40 shots (45 percent).
Only once did the Buffs fall behind, and that was at the outset of the game, trailing just 2-0. From there, they were in front, leading 11-9 after one quarter while extending the lead to 27-19 at halftime.
“I thought we did a good job defensively on them, and then rebounded much better in the second half,” Holloway said. “We were more under control in the second half. I think the kids were just excited to get the season started, which usually means you’re not relaxed so much.”
Jared Koster’s 17 points provided the only double-figure scorer for the Buffs, but they had 10 players who cracked the scoring column.
While the Monarchs never regained the lead, the Buffs were not able to put them away until the final minute of the game.
The lead diminished to four points, 46-42, with just under two minutes remaining, and then the Buffs closed it out with an 11-4 run.
“I think in the first half, we were just trying to get used to playing in a game again,” said Koster, who hit three 3-pointers en route to 11 second-half points and the game-high 17. “Everyone was getting a better look, and it’s great to have that many players scoring.”
Holloway credited his team’s defensive effort for playing a pivotal role in the Buffs’ victory.
“It’s something we’ve prided ourselves on, and it got TMP out of their normal offensive rhythm,” Holloway said. “TMP’s a solid team. There’s a reason they were ranked in preseason (Class 4A-II). They’ve got some good players.”
When the Monarchs closed to within four, Koster made his final 3-point dagger from deep on the baseline, was fouled, and then knocked down the free throw for a four-point play. The Buffs iced it with six free throws in the final 44 seconds, missing just two.
The Buffs, who were out rebounded 19-10 in the first half, did a better job on the boards in the final two quarters, finishing down two, 30-28. After giving up eight offensive boards in the first half, the Buffs limited TMP to just one in the second half.
“We’ll always be a better team when we’re doing a good job of rebounding,” Holloway said.
With Koster and 6-5 senior Caleb Tramp sitting for long stretches of the first half, it was left to reserves Jesus Reyes and Erwin Leal, along with other subs, to keep the Monarchs at bay. Reyes scored all six of his points in the first half while Leal, who had only four points, took three charging calls on defense during that time.
“Those were big, big efforts from our bench,” Holloway said. “It’s a big confidence builder for us to know that we can go deep into the bench.”
As expected in the season opening game for both teams, it was sloppy in the early going.
Turnovers by the Monarchs, inconsistent free-throw shooting and a lot of fouls were a large component of the first 16 minutes of play.
One thing that did go well for the Buffs was their field goal shooting, hitting an even 50 percent on 10-of-20 shooting while their defense forced the Monarchs into 10 miscues and just 7-of-21 shooting for 35 percent. The only thing that kept TMP close was its rebounding.
That was partially due to foul trouble on the part of Tramp, who was whistled for his second foul at the 3:34 mark of the first quarter and sat on the bench the rest of the half. The Buffs’ junior guard, Koster, also spent time on the bench, getting his second foul in the first portion of the second period.
Reyes provided a big scoring lift for the Buffs in the half, knocking down six points, while Koster and Miguel Olivas added five each.
The Buffs will take on Olathe North in the 4:45 p.m. semifinal today at the Hays High Gym. North advanced with a 46-34 victory over Newton in its opening round game Thursday night.
In other first-round action on the upper bracket, it was Great Bend rolling past Colby 67-41. In the late game Thursday, defending champion Hays routed DeSoto, 75-53. That semifinal will be played today at 8:15 p.m.
In today’s consolation side of the bracket, TMP will take on Newton at 4:45 p.m. and Colby faces the Hays-DeSoto loser at 8:15 p.m. at the Hays Middle School Gym.
Garden City (57) — Tramp 2-6 5-6 9, Olivas 3-8 1-2 8, Koster 5-10 4-5 17, Reyes 3-3 0-2 6, Leal 1-2 2-3 4, Rodriguez 2-4 1-4 5, Harp 0-1 0-0 0, Love 0-3 1-2 1, Acosta 1-2 1-2 3, Rincones 0-0 2-2 2, Aguilar 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 18-40 17-28 57.
TMP-Marian (46) — Hoffman 3-8 2-3 8, Schmidt 6-12 0-2 14, Kazura 1-1 0-0 2, Romme 0-1 0-1 0, Ruder 0-2 2-2 2, Flax 0-2 1-2 1, Vitztum 3-9 0-0 6, Schumacher 0-1 0-0 0, Schippers 0-2 3-6 3, Fouts 3-5 4-4 10, Chittenden 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-43 12-20 46.
Garden City 11 16 14 16 — 57
TMP-Marian 9 10 11 16 — 46
3-point goals—GC 4-12 (Olivas 1-6, Koster 3-5, Leal 0-1), TMP 2-10 (Hoffman 3-8, Schmidt 2-4, Ruder 0-2, Vitztum 0-2). Rebounds—GC 28 (Tramp 8), TMP 30 (Fouts, Schippers, Romme 5 each). Turnovers—GC 15, TMP 16. Fouls—GC 22, TMP 28. Fouled out—GC (Koster), TMP (Hoffman, Schippers). Technical fouls—none.