The Garden City High School girls fell into the trap that the Coronado, Colo., Cougars were hoping for when deploying a first-half full-court press — the Buffaloes turned the ball over 15 times before the break.
But when the Buffs’ defense did their own damage — holding the Cougars to a paltry 2-for-23 shooting — Garden City was able to overcome its miscues to grab a strangle hold of the game early and cruise to the 39-22 win Thursday night at The Garden in the opener of the Clarion Inn Roundball Classic.
“I think we just paid attention to details (on defense) and made them uncomfortable, paid attention to the scouting report, and then just rebounded,” GCHS head coach Matt Pfeifer said, “because on film, a lot of their baskets came from offensive rebounds from those long 3s.”
The Buffs (2-0), unlike the Cougars (1-3), did nothing special on defense, just playing a harassing man defense much of the time, and challenging every shot. In turn, the Cougars built a brick wall on the offensive side of the court.
The Buffs led 11-0 after the first period, and 24-4 at halftime, holding the Cougars to a horrific 0.13 points per possession.
“We really just helped off the ball and rotated when somebody needed help,” GCHS sophomore Keyhana Turner said.
And because of the Buffs’ rebounding (a 38-26 advantage) the Buffs were able to get out in transition, with Julie Calzonetti leading the way there.
At the end of the first period, Coronado’s Hope Earls’ 3-pointer was off and Taryn Tabor hauled in the rebound and immediately looked up for a streaking Calzonetti, hitting her behind the Coronado transition defense for the breakaway lay up and the 11-0 lead at the end of the period.
“We got out and ran and got some easy ones,” Pfeifer said, “and that always helps when you can do that, especially when you’re struggling to find a rhythm.”
Calzonetti led the Buffs with 11 points, all of which came in the first half.
The Cougars never pulled back within single digits the rest of the way after the first period. In fact, it took another minute and change into the second period before Coronado got on the scoreboard, when Fatinah Muhammad made a short jumper. But Symone Simmons answered back for the Buffs, with an assist from Elyssa Salazar, and then Keyhana Turner scored on a lay up off a Coronado turnover to make it 17-2.
After an Earls’ bucket, the Buffs finished out the half on a 7-0 run, capped by Simmons’ sprawling lay up and free throw 3-point play.
In the second half, the Cougars were able to get some offense going — a pair of nine-point quarters — but it was not nearly enough to threaten the Buffs’ commanding lead.
Simmons finished with five points on 2-of-2 shooting, and Salazar had eight. Turner added six.
Sarah Ford led the Cougars with 11 points.