In the first four games of the 2014-15 basketball season, the Garden City Buffaloes had displayed a lot of poise, a lot of teamwork and a lot of hard work in producing a 3-1 record.
But all that disappeared Friday night at The Garden as the Buffs fell victim to Wichita Trinity’s Knights, 48-37, in the middle game of the three-day Clarion Inn Southwest Classic.
GCHS coach Jacy Holloway was scrambling in the aftermath to find the right words to describe the team’s performance.
“You can ask the wall and it might have a better chance of explaining what just happened than I could,” Holloway said at first in the post-game interview. “We had a complete lack of focus, which resulted in us being out of our normal rhythm both offensively and defensively.”
What made this one difficult to stomach was that despite horrendous offensive play in the first half, the Buffs were still tied at 18 when Caleb Tramp rifled in a deep 3-pointer at the Buzzer.
That seemed to overshadow an otherwise gloomy first half in which the Buffs trailed early and often. The Knights cashed in four 3-pointers in the first quarter en route to a 12-6 lead.
Only a late 8-0 run in the final 2:06 of the second quarter enabled the Buffs to head into halftime all-even with the tough-nosed Knights.
In a game that at times was physical and fiery, the Knights seemed to have an answer for every run the Buffs made.
Despite that, the third quarter, another low-scoring affair by both teams, ended with the Buffs on top 27-23 after a 9-5 edge.
Nothing could have prepared anybody for what happened in the fourth quarter.
Trinity exploded for 25 points to just 10 for Garden, and a 12-0 start to the final period began the downturn for the Buffs.
From up four to down eight, 35-27, the Buffs tried to play catch-up the rest of the way, but could never close the gap to less than five. That came at 38-33 with 2:41 remaining.
The Knights, who had struggled at the free-throw line earlier (3 of 8) suddenly found the charity stripe to their liking, sinking 12 of 16 down the stretch.
Holloway could only shake his head when told of the team’s shooting woes — 13 of 48 from the field (27 percent) and an even more alarming 1 of 18 from behind the 3-point line.
“No poise, that goes back to the focus,” Holloway said. “When we don’t communicate and work for each other, then both sides of the ball are very negatively affected.”
Holloway bemoaned the poor start by the Buffs, in which they were stuck on two points from the 6:29 mark of the first until Jared Koster scored on a drive to the basket with 52 seconds remaining. Tramp added a last-second bank shot to give them six points.
“We had no screens to get a teammate open, and when you don’t do that, it’s hard to score,” Holloway said.
And what about the 1-of-18 arctic shooting from 3-point range?
“Well, I would think that would send a message to whomever was shooting them,” Holloway said.
Tramp was the lone Buff player to reach double figures, but it came on a night where he was only 5-of-16 shooting and finished with a double-double by pulling down 11 rebounds.
Meanwhile, the starting guard duo of Koster and Miguel Olivas were a combined 2-of-18 shooting (0 of 10 from 3-point range).
In the early stages of the season, the Buffs had managed to take care of the ball, but on this night they uncharacteristically committed 14 turnovers while forcing Trinity into 22.
“A lot of them came from pressure, but a lot came outside of our normal offense of what we wanted to run,” Holloway said.
The Buffs will barely have 24 hours to get ready for the 7:45 p.m. tipoff tonight at The Garden when they take on unbeaten and No. 1-ranked in Class 4A-II Holcomb, their Finney County and ArkRiver rival.
In three previous meetings, Holcomb has a 2-1 edge, capturing the previous two after Garden won the inaugural meeting in 2011.
Trinity closes out its Classic schedule with a 12:45 p.m. matchup with Kansas City-Christian. All six games will be played at The Garden.
Wichita Trinity (2-1) — Carro 2-5 0-0 6, Thornton 2-2 0-0 5, Kuntz 0-0 2-2 2, Johnson 1-1 2-2 5, Burns 2-8 5-12 9, Jones 1-5 4-6 7, Harvey 1-1 0-0 2, List 4-6 2-2 12. Totals 13-28 15-24 48.
Garden City (3-2) — Tramp 5-16 0-3 13, Olivas 0-2 0-0 0, Koster 2-16 4-4 8, Reyes 1-3 0-0 2, Leal 0-1 0-0 0, Rodriguez 3-7 1-2 7, Love 2-3 1-1 5, Rincones 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 13-48 6-10 37.
Wichita Trinity 12 6 5 25 — 48
Garden City 6 12 9 10 — 37
3-point goals—Trinity 7-17 (Carro 2-5, Thornton 1-1, Burns 0-2, Jones 1-5, List 2-3), Garden City 1-18 (Tramp 1-8, Olivas 0-1, Koster 0-9). Rebounds—Trinity 27 (List 6), Garden City 30 (Tramp 11). Fouls—Trinity 19, Garden City 19. Fouled out—none.