The Garden City Community College men’s basketball team will have three weeks to wallow in the disappointment of Saturday’s 93-92 loss to Pratt.
The Broncbusters entered the day with three KJCCC losses, but all three were to teams in the top four of the conference standings. The Beavers were tied for 11th, but left the Conestoga Arena with a win on the Busters’ home floor.
“This is all effort,” GCCC head coach Brady Trenkle said of the loss, which ends the 2017 slate for the Busters ahead of the December break, and drops them to 9-4 overall and 5-4 in the KJCCC. “Pratt got us on all effort. We didn’t deserve to win this game.”
The Busters trailed by between eight points to one point from midway through the first half until a minute left in the game, with Pratt answering each and every Buster bucket. And yet, they took a lead with 20 seconds left on Jamir Thomas’ putback and-1, putting Trenkle’s team in position to steal a win when their play was well below average.
Then, despite struggling on defense most of the night, the Busters seemingly got a stop at the other end with Kendale Hampton’s block of James Brooks’ long jumper, but the ball bounced directly to Jaylon Wilson, whose momentum took him right to the bucket for the game-winner, sending the Busters to the disappointing setback.
Wilson had a team-high 23 points for the Beavers, who improved to 6-7 and 3-6.
“This is a trap game,” Trenkle said, meaning the game right before the December break. “I’ve said it forever. I’ve been stressed about this game ever since the Cloud game (Wednesday).”
Now, the Busters are tied for fifth in the conference, but are two games behind the top four, and they open 2018 with a road tilt at second-place Coffeyville — but perhaps a road game is preferable to the Busters, who are 1-3 in conference at home so far.
“I can’t figure out why we can’t win at home right now,” Trenkle said. “We need to get that figured out.”
Saturday’s loss was pretty simple, though — the Busters did not play with the same intensity they usually do, and they tried to match Pratt’s up-tempo offensive attack with outside shooting alone.
“If you try to play their game and try to run with them, they’re going to beat you,” Trenkle said of Pratt, who averages 98 points per game.
The Busters and Beavers both hit 45 percent of their shots, but Pratt was 13 of 26 from three-point range, while the Busters were 10 of 34. And while Garden’s lineup is head and shoulders bigger than Pratt’s, the Beavers out-rebounded the Busters, 40-38, and held Garden to just 10 offensive boards.
Pierre Johnson and Thomas did their best to carry the Busters to the win — scoring 24 and 22 points, respectively — but without consistent stops on the other end, they couldn’t keep up.
The Busters came into Saturday giving up a solid 0.98 points per possession, but allowed Pratt 1.08 points per possession Saturday, which is slightly better than Pratt’s average. Still, two points fewer, and the Busters could have skated into January with a win.
“I’ve got to wake up to this in the morning,” Trenkle said, “and I have to watch this film.”
And then not be able to get it out of his memory until Jan. 3, when the Busters return to action.