LIBERAL — There was no comeback this time.
Nope, not in the Garden City Buffaloes' girls' final regular season Western Athletic Conference battle here Tuesday night with the Liberal Redskins.
The Buffs fell behind early and never got back into the contest.
The end result was a 49-25 blowout loss that left the Buffs with a 6-14 season record and 2-6 in the WAC. It was reminiscent of the 45-21 loss in Garden City in early January by the Buffs.
It was a far cry from the team that knocked off the other top team in the WAC on Friday when the Buffs rallied to upset Hays, 50-36, knocking the Indians out of a tie for the top spot in the league.
Liberal, now 18-1 and 6-1, ends its regular season on the road Thursday at Dodge City, and a victory there will give the Redskins the outright WAC crown.
For GCHS head coach Matt Pfeifer, the scoring struggles was a reminder of the season-long offensive issues his team has faced.
“When you''re 1-for-something, you’re not going to beat anybody,” Pfeifer said of his team that was 2 of 17 in the first half and finished just 6 of 34 for the game (17.6 percent). They were 1 for 10 from 3-point range.
“It’s been the theme all year,” Pfeifer said. “It’s hard to coach a team’s motor when the other team is sitting back in a zone and just giving us opportunities to shoot and we don’t.”
Down by 18 at halftime, things never got back on track for the Buffs, getting outscored 15-8 in the third and trailing 42-17 heading into the fourth.
When Liberal’s Katie Horyna drained a trey at the 5:20 mark, the running clock went into effect, and the mercy rule allowed the game to finish quickly.
At that point, Liberal’s lead was 49-17, and the Buffs scored the final eight points, six of those coming from the free-throw line where the Buffs were 12 of 17 for the game, the only bright spot.
Beth Guymon’s eight points were high for Garden, which will now await the Class 6A sub-state pairings with a road game likely in the middle of next week.
For Liberal, Machia Mullen was high with 15 points and Horyna added 13. The Redskins were 16-of-40 shooting for 40 percent, cashed in 13-of-14 free throws and out-rebounded the Buffs 31-24.
Mullens had six boards to lead the Redskins while Annie Gerber grabbed seven for the Buffs.
In the turnover category, Garden committed 15 miscues to 11 for Liberal.
It will now be a week to regroup for the Buffs, Pfeifer said.
“We’ll focus on refining the little things, greater attention to details,” Pfeifer said. “We’ll wait to see who we get and then get a scouting report and begin preparations.”
After a first quarter in which the Buffs competed with the Redskins, Pfeifer said his team just went ice cold.
“It’s hard to compete when you can’t put the ball into the basket,” Pfeifer said. “It’s disappointing because we had played so well at Hays.”
An early 3-0 lead for the Buffs quickly turned in favor of the Redskins in the opening quarter as the hosts reeled off seven unanswered points after going scoreless for the first 3 minutes, 45 seconds.
By the end of the opening period, Liberal was up 9-5.
And then things really went south for the Buffs.
The Redskins opened the second quarter on a 13-0 explosion and the Buffs never fully recovered.
In that run, the Redskins had a pair of 3-pointers, and several fastbreak buckets that simply broke the backs of the Buffs.
By intermission, the Buffs had scored only four points in the second, all on free throws and were outscored 18-9 and went into the locker room at the break down 27-9.
Brett Marshall can be contacted at email@example.com