The Garden City Lady Buffaloes found the quick answer to forgetting the previous night’s heartbreaking overtime loss to Pueblo, Colo., East at the outset of Friday’s matchup with Wichita Trinity at The Garden.
The answer came in the form of sophomore Abbie Dart, who had her long-range sights lined up for the first time this season, knocking down four 3-pointers en route to a season-high 22 points to lead the Lady Buffs to a confidence-building 54-36 triumph over the Lady Knights.
The victory was just the right medication for the Lady Buffs, who had suffered three straight losses. Now 2-3, they will entertain Finney County foe Holcomb at 6 p.m. today in the final day of the Southwest Classic as the teams renew the Ark River Rivalry for the fourth straight season.
For Dart, it was the first long-range trey that got the wheels off the ground as she finished 7-of-15 shooting, and was 4 of 6 at the free throw line. The front line of Jessica Carrillo and Alexis Elliott provided the inside balance, scoring 15 and 10 points, respectively.
That first bucket was all Dart needed to relax and put together her best effort of the young season.
“At the beginning of the season, I was just a little off the beat and I’ve been trying to get out of the funk,” Dart said. “I’ve been working my tail off, and after I made that first one, it just kept flowing.”
Dart said the team’s defense was critical in leading the Lady Knights from start to finish.
An 11-0 run to begin the game, in which Dart scored eight, got things rolling.
“I told the girls earlier that we wanted to own the first quarter, and I thought we came out with a lot more energy and enthusiasm,” GCHS coach David Upton said. “When Abbie hit that first 3-pointer, I could see the light in her eye. That’s been a lot of pressure for a sophomore. We just have been trying to make the game fun because that’s what it’s supposed to be in high school.”
An 18-6 first quarter lead turned into a 32-17 halftime advantage.
It was 41-23 after three quarters as the Lady Buffs never let the Lady Knights get closer than 15 the rest of the way.
“I thought the girls did a good job of making a lot of adjustments with the defense,” Upton said. “We did a lot of different things in the press, and I was impressed with how many things they did on the fly.”
Dart, too, said it was a big lift to get off to a good start and then play solid throughout.
“We’re coming together, and doing a lot of good things now,” Dart said.
The Lady Buffs were 18-of-41 shooting for 39.1 percent, while Trinity made just 14 of 42 for 33.3 percent. Garden had a big rebounding advantage, plucking off 36 to 19 for Trinity. Alexis Elliott had seven to lead the Buffs while Caroline Zielke had six for Trinity.
Kaleigh Schrag and Zielke paced Trinity with nine points each.
Trinity’s girls will conclude their Classic competition at 11 a.m. today when they take on Kansas City-Christian at The Garden in the first of six games scheduled on the final day of the six-school event.
Upton expects the same type of atmosphere for tonight’s game as he’s seen in each of the previous three.
“The Finney County pride is on the line,” Upton said. “I expect a great crowd. The atmosphere has been really good.”
Wichita Trinity (2-1) — Schrag 4-9 0-0 9, Zielke 3-10 2-5 9, guetersloh 2-4 0-0 5, Henderson 1-6 0-0 3, Scheufler 0-3 0-0 0, Bearup 2-5 0-0 5, Hollinger 1-3 1-1 3, Ast 0-0 0-0 0, Knocke 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 14-42 4-8 36.
Garden City (2-3) — Ashlock 0-1 0-2 0, Munoz 0-2 0-0 0, Dart 7-15 4-6 22, Hinde 0-0 0-1 0, Flowers 0-1 0-0 0, Longoria 0-2 0-0 0, Richman 0-0 0-0 0, B. Elliott 1-1 0-0 2, Dreiling 2-3 1-1 5, Carrillo 4-10 7-7 15, A. Elliott 4-6 2-2 10. Totals 18-41 14-19 54.
Wichita Trinity 6 11 6 13 — 36
Garden City 18 14 9 13 — 54
3-point goals—Trinity 5-12 (Schrag 1-3, Zielke 1-3, Guetersloh 1-1, Henderson 1-3, Bearup 1-2), Garden City 4-11 (Ashlock 0-1, Munoz 0-1, Dart 4-8, Flowers 0-1). Rebounds—Trinity 19 (Zielke 6), Garden City 36 (A. Elliott 7). Turnovers—Trinity 19, Garden City 25. Fouls—Trinity 18, Garden City 14. Fouled out—Trinity (Scheufler).