Just like their first meeting earlier this season, the Garden City Broncbusters (6-5,1-1) and the Trinidad State Trojans (8-6, 0-1) went down to the wire in a game that the Busters ultimately pulled out after freshman Jaleah Bellany hit three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, to close out the Trojans 73-68, Wednesday night in Conestoga Arena.
Sophomore Talia Roberts’ 26 points helped the Busters get back over .500 and earn back-to-back wins, right before they start a two-game road trip.
“The biggest thing for my team tonight was that they didn't give up,” said GCCC head coach Charinee Mitchell.
“That's the most positive thing that happened to us tonight. They kept fighting on defense and kept shooting the ball because we had a terrible night shooting the ball.”
Although the Busters shot about their season average from the field, they went 5 for 28 from the 3-point line.
“We can shoot it, but we were just off tonight. They kept pushing through that and found a way to win the game tonight,” said Mitchell.
Fortunately for Garden City, the defense was incredibly stout and held Trinidad State to only eight points in the first quarter. After being down 8-0, Garden City closed out the first quarter on a 9-0 run for an 11-8 lead.
The defense, which made the Trojans turn the ball over 21 times, kept the Busters in the game while they worked out their shooting woes.
Mitchell is hoping that type of defense becomes a staple of the team moving forward.
“Thats one thing that we thrive on as a team. We preach, ‘Stops! We have to have stops!’ so we’re understand what we want as a staff and they are understand what we want as a team."
The Trojans and Broncbusters both exploded offensively in the second quarter, scoring 26 and 22 points, respectively. Trinidad State went on 14-0 run that started at the end of the first quarter and lasted until 2:38 left in the second quarter when Daz'Monique Johnson scored on a free throw to score Garden City's ninth point of the quarter.
The Busters went on a run of their own, closing out the half on a 15-4 run. Garden City would have taken a one-point lead into halftime, if not for a Julia Trujillo buzzer beating layup to give the Trojans a 34-33 lead heading into the break.
The Broncbuster missed on their first 13 shots from 3-point range to start the game, until Roberts made their first three-point shot of the game with one minute left in the second quarter. Although not her best shooting night, Roberts kept the Busters in the game, scoring 17 of her game-high 26 in the first half. She finished the night 10 of 22 from the field, but only 2 of 12 from behind the 3-point line.
The Trojans entered the fourth quarter with a 68-66 lead. The fourth quarter was another slow quarter for the Busters before Jaleah Bellany hit three 3-pointers in the closing to give the Busters momentum in the closing minutes.
Garden City showed some composure to first get, then maintain the lead, and according to Mitchell, this last-minute composure is something her team is just learning.
“I wouldn't say over the season, but something I've seen growing over the past couple of days,” she said. "We are real young, and unfortunately in junior college basketball, you have to grow up quick. It's just two years and you have to grow up quick. They’re adapting, day-by-day, but I think our level of maturity is going up and they are understanding the game a little bit better."
The win keeps the Busters undefeated at home, improving their record to 5-0 at Conestoga Arena.
Garden City will travel to Arkansas City to take on the Cowley County Tigers on Saturday. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
“It's huge for our kids that we got this win tonight, being as we are going on the road for two straight conference games, in which neither of the games are going to be easy,” Mitchell said.