Magic apparently has a shelf-life.
After the Garden City Community College women’s basketball team rallied from down 15 to beat visiting Independence on Saturday afternoon at Conestoga Arena, the Broncbuster men came all the way back from an 18-point deficit on the same floor to take a short-lived lead in the final minutes. But that’s all they could manage as Independence re-took the lead and later denied two potentially game-tying 3-pointers in the final 10 seconds to seal the 70-65 win.
The game marked the return of three pivotal Broncbuster players from suspension — for violation of team rules — at the end of the fall semester. Jaleel Simmons, Tony Hopkins and Jamir Thomas all played significant minutes in Saturday’s game, after missing the final three games of the fall semester.
And their return seemed to give the Busters (6-8, 1-4) some early life out of the gate, but when Independence (10-5, 5-1) punched back, the habits of the struggling Garden City team from the fall semester also returned — defensive lapses and settling for outside jumpers on offense.
The Pirates took advantage to go on a 10-0 run to take a 16-6 lead midway through the first half. The two teams exchanged buckets for the next few minutes, but Independence again went on a run, out-scoring the Busters 10-3 going into the break for a commanding 38-22 lead.
So even after a furious second-half rally, that included holding Independence to 37.5 percent shooting, overcoming the deficit just took too much out of the Busters to close out the game.
“That’s the best defense we’ve played all year,” Nee said of the second-half rally. “If we can put two halves together like that, I think we can be a really, really good team. But we just played so poorly in the last five minutes of the (first) half, and when you put yourself in a hole like that, it’s really hard to come back.”
The Busters did take a 62-61 lead with 2:07 to play — their only lead of the game — but Independence got a quick layup and then a 3-pointer to go back up, where the Pirates would stay the rest of the way.
Russhard Cruickshank led Garden City with 20 points, Hopkins added 13 and Simmons had nine. But Thomas — a double-double machine a year ago — had just eight points and three boards.
“I was proud of the fight in our guys,” Nee said. “I thought Jaleel Simmons was a warrior tonight. He’s playing on a bad wheel all week and just toughed it out. I thought Tony Hopkins did the same thing, and Russhard was Russhard, but we just got to get Jamir playing better. He’s a really, really good player, and he’s just not playing up to par of the type of player he is.”
Indy was led by Jibril Harris’ 14 points.
Contact J. Levi Burnfin at firstname.lastname@example.org.