Garden City’s Buffaloes’ boys basketball team has now played four games in eight days, three of those against squads that have been ranked in both Kansas and Colorado, including Thursday night when it took on Colorado’s Class 4A defending champion, Pueblo East’s Eagles.

It was the opening night of the 2014 Clarion Inn Southwest Classic, and the Buffs used their height advantage and overall quickness to produce a workmanlike 51-37 victory over East to improve their record to 3-1.

“Even though we got a good win, we were inconsistent for much of the game,” GCHS coach Jacy Holloway said.

It’s the kind of attention to detail that Holloway believes will continue to make his team improve as the season unfolds, and thus he could point to East’s 7-of-18 shooting from behind the 3-point arc that produced more than half of the Eagles’ points.

“We didn’t guard their penetration, and we didn’t do as good a job on their shooters as we needed to,” Holloway said.

East’s Luke Padula did knock down four treys, but he took 11 shots from beyond the 3-point line.

“I thought we rebounded well in spurts,” Holloway said. “I haven’t looked at the stats, but one reason we won is that they didn’t knock down a lot of open shots that they usually would make.”

Indeed, the Eagles were a paltry 11 of 44 (25 percent) from the field, and were only 8 of 14 from the free-throw line.

Garden City, meanwhile, which trailed only twice early in the game, the last at 6-4, got 15 points and nine rebounds from 6-5 forward Caleb Tramp and eight points and eight rebounds from 6-5 post Luis Rodriguez.

That tandem accounted for nearly half the points and more than half the rebounds for the Buffs.

“We struggled a little in the first half and made too many mistakes,” Rodriguez said of the Buffs when they led 18-13 after one quarter and 26-21 at halftime. “I think we were more mentally tough in the second half. I’m just gonna say that I thought our effort was better. It’s how we’re gonna play.

“This group is communicating better and we’re enjoying playing together.”

Pueblo was still within striking range at 29-25 just under the three-minute mark of the third quarter, but the Buffs went on a 10-0 runout to close the period and take a 39-25 advantage to the final eight minutes.

“I thought our effort on defense was good, and to hold them to 37 points I think says that,” Holloway said.

East did close the gap to eight points at the outset of the final quarter, but could never get any closer as the Buffs ended the game on a 12-6 run.

Both teams protected the ball, with East committing only 10 turnovers to just nine for the Buffs. The Buffs were 17-of-40 shooting from the field (42.5 percent), but were only 4 of 15 from 3-point range.

“We had a nice lead, and then took some ill-advised shots,” Holloway said of the team’s fourth-quarter start. “We’ve got to take better care of the ball, be more patient when we’ve got the lead.”

The Buffs are right back in action at 7:45 p.m. today when they host Wichita Trinity, a 66-62 victim at Scott City on Thursday night. Trinity is ranked No. 7 in Class 4A-Division II.

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Pueblo East (3-2) — Whatley 1-1 0-0 3, Kahler 2-4 3-6 8, Padula 4-15 2-2 14, Fesmire 2-11 3-4 7, Tellez 0-4 0-0 0, Andrews 1-2 0-2 2, Gutierrez 1-2 0-0 3, DeSalvo 0-1 0-0 0, Torres 0-4 0-0 0. Totals 11-44 8-14 37.

Garden City (3-1) — Tramp 7-15 1-3 15, Olivas 1-4 2-2 4, Koster 3-7 6-6 14, Karlin 0-0 0-0 0, Leal 0-2 2-2 2, Rodriguez 4-7 0-2 8, Harp 0-0 0-0 0, Love 1-2 0-1 3, Acosta 0-1 2-2 2, Rincones 1-1 0-0 3, Aguilar 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 17-40 13-18 51.

Pueblo East 13 8 4 12 — 37

Garden City 18 8 13 12 — 51

3-point goals—East 7-18 (Whatley 1-1, Kahler 1-2, Padula 4-11, Tellez 0-1, Gutierrez 1-1, DeSalvo 0-1, Torres 0-1), Garden City 4-15 (Tramp 0-4, Olivas 0-2, Koster 2-4, Leal 0-1, Love 1-2, Rincones 1-1, Aguila 0-1). Rebounds—East 29 (Fesmire 6), Garden City 32 (Tramp 9, Rodriguez 8). Turnovers—East 10, Garden City 9. Fouls—East 19, Garden City 13. Fouled out—none.