By BRETT MARSHALL
HAYS — After three games in three days at the Hays City Shoot-Out, Garden City High School girls basketball coach David Upton was trying to figure out which team he brought to the 28th annual event.
Was it the team that powered its way to a 62-41 first-round victory Thursday night over Kearney, Neb. and owned a 10-point lead midway through the third quarter in their semifinal matchup with Riley County?
Or was it the team that wilted in the final 12 minutes of a 50-42 loss to Riley County and got riddled by Colby, 42-19, in the third place game Saturday afternoon at Hays High School gym?
The fourth-year Lady Buffs coach hopes it will be the former and not the latter when they regroup this week and get prepared to play Lawton, Okla., on Friday and Hereford, Texas, on Saturday at Liberal's Conestoga Classic.
"I'm not sure what to think after all this," a bewildered Upton said following Saturday's shocking performance. "Today, our mind was just not focused. I don't know what was going on out there, but it wasn't good."
What had Upton in a quandry was the teamwork that had worked so effectively on Thursday, and part of Friday, had disappeared during Saturday's game.
This was a game in which the Lady Buffs had more turnovers (24) than they had during the games on Thursday and Friday (8 and 11).
The total was also more than the number of shots the GCHS girls could put up on offense (23).
How did the statistical sheet look? The Lady Buffs hit just 6-of-23 field goals (26 percent), were 0-of-4 from 3-point range, shot 7-of-17 from the free throw line and got outrebounded by the shorter Lady Eagles team, 24-19.
After taking an early 8-0 lead in the first 4:40 of the game and the Lady Buffs appeared to have righted the ship from Friday's setback.
But then something happened that even Upton said he rarely, if ever, experienced.
The Lady Buffs would go the next 13 minutes, 8 seconds without scoring allowing the tenacious offense of Colby to kick in to answer with eight first-period points to tie the score at quarter's end.
But the Eagles would go on a 13-0 streak during the second quarter, and take a 21-8 halftime lead and eventually score five more points before Kristen Heiman's basket at the 6:12 mark of the third halted the scoring drought.
During that time, it was turnover after turnover and costly fouls that plagued the Lady Buffs. There were 10 of those miscues in that devastating second quarter.
"We've always prided ourselves on having heart and hustle," Upton said. "I'm not sure we brought that today. I guess this coming week, we'll see if there's a heartbeat out there. I've got to find five girls who want to play."
While Upton credited Colby's defense with some of the problems, it was the lack of teamwork that concerned him the most.
"We lacked focus, we turned the ball over when we weren't even getting into our offense," Upton said. "This game seemed to be all about me. Not about the team."
Since Thursday's opener when he started one senior, a junior, two sophomores, and a freshman, the team meshed with all 13 players seeing time on the floor.
But the Lady Buffs went the other direction, according to Upton, who had guided the program to its first state tournament appearance in 21 years (2009) and its first winning season since 1994 (12-9 in 2009-10).
And it was not just one or two players, either, according to the coach. The box score would show that.
Senior Traci Martinez scored two points Saturday and one on Friday after a 20-point season opening performance.
Junior Kristen Heiman has yet to score in double figures, and led the team Saturday with six points while sophomore Johna McClelland, who had registered double-doubles in scoring and rebounding in the first two games, had just three points (all free throws) and one rebound.
"Colby's defense really made it tough to get the ball into Johna," Upton said. "They would sag two and three players on her yet we kept trying to get the ball into her."
It was, in Upton's words, a tournament of three games with the first one and a half being solid and encouraging, and the final one and a half being an experience he would just as soon like to forget.
"We go from sitting on the mountain top (Thursday) to sitting at the foothill looking up," he said. "I'm trying to figure out where the team went. It was not the team we took back to the hotel Thursday night."
Upton will see which team he has when the Lady Buffs resume action Friday. They face Lawton, Okla. at 2 p.m. in the Liberal Conestoga Classic and 1 p.m. Saturday against Sam Elizario, Texas.
Colby 8 13 12 9 -- 42
Garden City 8 0 3 8 -- 19
Colby (2-1) — Hockersmith 3-6 1-2 7, Schroeder 0-1 0-0 0, Shields 0-1 0-0 0, Katrina Kaus 2-3 0-0 5, Katherine Kaus 4-7 1-3 9, Wark 1-2 0-0 2, Curry 3-5 0-0 7, Bell 1-6 0-0 3, Finley 2-2 0-0 4, Bell 2-6 1-2 5. Totals 18-39 3-7 42.
Garden City (1-2) — McClelland 0-3 3-4 3, Silva 1-2 1-2 3, Campbell 1-1 1-2 3, Donaho 0-0 0-2 0, Heiman 2-5 2-4 6, Munoz 0-1 0-0 0, Guerrero 0-3 0-0 0, Temple 0-1 0-0 0, Brown 1-2 0-0 2, Heatwole 0-1 0-0 0, Martinez 1-3 0-2 2, Ekweariri 0-1 0-1 0, Garcia 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 6-23 7-17 19.
3-point goals — Colby 3-7 (Katrina Kaus 1-1, Curry 1-2, Bell 1-3, Bell 0-1), Garden City 0-3 (Munoz 0-1, Guerrero 0-1, Martinez 0-1). Fouls — Colby 18, Garden City 13. Fouled out — none. Rebounds — Colby 24 (Curry 5, Bell 5), Garden City 19 (Heiman 5). Turnovers — Colby 15, Garden City 24.