Just 8 seconds into Thursday’s Roundball Classic opener, Carlos Acosta hit a 3-pointer to give his Garden City Buffaloes an early 3-0 lead.
But by midway through the first period, Acosta picked up his second foul and went to the bench until the beginning of the third quarter, when he immediately hit another 3-pointer to put the Buffs up 29-21 on visiting Coronado, Colo. Just 20 seconds later, however, he recorded his third foul and went to the bench yet again.
He subbed back in at the the beginning of the fourth quarter, and once again made a quick 3-pointer that put the Buffs up double digits 46-36. And this time, Acosta did not record another foul, and the Buffs’ lead stuck for the duration as they downed the Cougars, 60-46, Friday night at The Garden.
“Having to play without Carlos for that long of time, and be able to manage to hand in there, I didn’t know if I was going to have to suck it up and put him back in there in the third quarter,” GCHS head coach Jacy Holloway said, “but the rest of the guys did a good job.”
Though, the Buffs (2-0) and Cougars (1-3) exchanged leads twice and were tied three times in the first half after Acosta went out. Still, they held a 26-21 lead at the break, and Acosta’s quick third-quarter 3-pointer stretched the lead.
After he went out again with his third foul, the Cougars got to within 35-31, and then 49-34 entering the fourth period. To begin the fourth, though, Kyler Lamb made a free throw and Azavier Williams hit a trey, before Acosta’s third and final 3-pointer gave the Buffs a double-digit lead they would not relinquish.
“I felt like we played better defense overall, rebounded better and we stayed out of foul trouble in the fourth quarter,” Acosta said.
His coach agreed.
“Even when we forced them into taking tougher shots (earlier in the game) and got them to miss those shots, we didn’t do a good job of rebounding, and they were able to get it to guys when we were in scramble mode defensively,” Holloway said.
The Buffs out-scored the Cougars 21-12 in the final period, with Coronado scoring nine points in the final minute of play.
Acosta finished with 11 points in just 12 minutes of play, while Jarrod Springston led all scorers with 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting, and added a game-high nine rebounds — the Buffs won that battle 37-31. Williams added 12 points for the Buffs and Jackson Dirks had 11.
“Even with Carlos (on the floor), we have other weapons,” Holloway said. “Jarrod needs to be more aggressive, and he was tonight at times. Azavier did a nice job, at times.”
It was Williams that gave the Buffs the ultimate lead, scoring in transition off a Mason Shaddix steal and dish for the lay up and the 16-14 lead midway through the second period.
From there, the Cougars rallied a couple of times, but never pulled even again.
The Buffs now host Palmer Ridge at 7:30 p.m. Friday on Day 2 of the Roundball Classic.