It was a tough way to end the weekend for one team. A great way for the other.
That’s how big the difference was Saturday at The Garden as the Garden City Lady Buffaloes overwhelmed the Holcomb Lady Longhorns, 50-21.
With the win, Garden City finished 2-1 in the Clarion Inn Southwest Classic, while the Lady Longhorns went 1-2.
The inside game of the Buffs was too much for the younger, less experienced Holcomb squad that was already depleted when junior post Jordan Jarnagin was declared unable to compete due to an injury just hours before the game.
Posts Bri Elliott, Breece Dreiling, Jessica Carrillo and Alexy Elliott combined for 31 of Garden’s 50 points, facing less resistance from the undermanned Holcomb inside game without Jarnagin in the lineup.
Carrillo had a game-high 14 points. Guard Abbie Dart finished with 12, including 8 of 10 from the line.
Garden City also made 20 of its 30 free throws.
For the second straight game, Holcomb’s Taylor Deniston found herself the target of the box-and-one defense.
She managed just 13 points before fouling out.
Garden City coach David Upton said the Buffs were always going to focus on limiting Deniston. The other four players would work to contain Jarnagin.
“Without her, though, it just put all the scoring pressure on Deniston,” he said. “It was great, our kids holding her to 13 points. It was just a great defensive effort for our kids.”
Deniston and the rest of her team found the lane plugged most of the night as the Garden defense occupied space well and stepped into passing lanes often.
They were responsible for causing 25 turnovers and held the ‘Horns scoreless for nine minutes early, and stretches of three to five minutes throughout the game.
Despite the negative numbers, Holcomb coach Nathan Novack credited his girls with keeping in the game early. Despite just one field goal in the first period, they were only down 7-2 at the first break, holding the Buffs to just two field goals.
“I feel good about how our kids played the triangle and two (defense),” he said. “It was pretty successful. We had a good scheme going in.”
But that slight glimmer disappeared as Garden City connected six times in the second period and five more in the third while Holcomb went 4 of 21 from the floor in that stretch.
Garden City held Holcomb to one-shot or forced a turnover on all but three of its first-half possessions.
“The things that we gave up were the transition offenses,” Novack said. “Our half-court defense has been solid the past two nights. I think a lot of it is just timidness, and not knowing how to make passes through different defenses and how to cut.”
Garden’s press didn’t really bother his team too much, he added. The mistakes were made in the half-court execution.
Winning two games in this Classic showed Upton how much his team has grown after going 1-2 in the Hays tournament in the previous week.
“The girls are growing. The girls are learning to play together. They’re learning the offensive system we’ve put in,” he said. “I think there’s been a lot of growth right now.”
His guards are doing a good job finding players inside and doing a better job of opening the lanes.
“In the first three games of the season, we were too close. We weren’t spread out; we weren’t spacing the floor,” Upton said. “I think we’ve finally got them to understand about floor spacing.”
The more ground they give, he explained, the more ground the opponents have to cover, which opens passing lanes, making it easier to get the ball inside.
Eight different players scored for Garden City, showing the balance in the lineup, he added.
Next up for the Buffs (3-3) is a road game at Denver South Friday before the holiday break.
Upton is looking at a tough test for his team.
“In the past, they’ve been long — they’ve been pretty tall. They’re going to get up and down the floor and run a lot of transition stuff,” he said. “We just have to make sure we get back defensively and play well on the offensive end.”
With two tournaments behind them, Upton said it will be good to take a few days to review film and work on things.
“The girls have had to grow up quickly. Now we can sit down, and watch some film and teach,” he said. “That will help them even more.”
Holcomb (2-2) travels to Colby on Friday to open Great West Activities Conference action. It also will be the Lady Longhorns’ final game before the holiday break.
HOLCOMB (2-2)—Sapien 2 1-2 6, Deniston 5 1-1 13, Engler 1 0-2 2, Sleep 0 0-2 0. Totals 8-33 2-7 21.
GARDEN CITY (3-3)—Munoz 1 0-1 2, Dart 2 8-10 12, Hinde 1 1-2 , Flowers 0 2-2 2, B. Elliott 3 1-4 7, Dreiling 1 1-2 3, Carrillo 5 4-7 14, A. Elliott 2 3-4 7. Totals 15-30 20-30 50.
3-point goals—Holcomb 3-14 (Sapien, Deniston 2), Garden City 0-4). Rebounds—Holcomb 23 (Deniston 7, Sleep 5), Garden City 22 (A. Elliott 8, Carrillo 5). Fouls—Holcomb 24, Garden City 13. Fouled out—Holcomb (Deniston, Ratliff, Sleep), Garden City (Flowers). Technical fouls—none.