It’s the small things.
The Garden City Community College men’s basketball team did not shoot it very well on Wednesday night at Conestoga Arena, making just 37.8 percent of its shots.
Regardless, the Broncbusters were still within striking distance of the Pratt Beavers late in the game at Conestoga Arena, before a couple of late turnovers in crucial moments handed them a 66-64 loss.
The Busters had a chance to tie it in the waning seconds, but Jakobi Pearson — filling in for suspended point guard Russhard Cruickshank — drove into the middle of the Pratt defense, got stopped by a defender, lost his dribble and tried to frantically find a passing line to the outside, before a Pratt defended tipped a pass up and stole it to seal the Pratt win.
“That’s kind of a microcosm for how our whole season has gone,” GCCC head coach Patrick Nee said of the final play, which ensured the Busters fell to 8-12 overall and 3-8 in the KJCCC West. Pratt improved to 9-11 and 2-9.
Pearson had just made a big layup to pull the Busters within one on the possession prior, before Pratt’s Tyvon Taylor made 1-of-2 free throws, setting up the final possession for the Busters. But in a potentially game-tying moment, the veteran Cruickshank might have been missed.
“It was huge. Jakobi had the ball in his hands more than he usually does. RJ Pair — same thing. I thought those guys were solid with it,” Nee said, referencing the Busters eight total turnovers, “but going back to fundamentals, we’re jumping in the air to pass, not sure what we’re doing.”
The small things, Nee said.
“They beat us to every 50-50 ball, every toughness play,” he said. “We’re getting shoved underneath the basket by smaller guys. It’s the toughness stuff that we see, that I think we’re getting better at, but is not to the level to get over the hump to win a Jayhawk Conference basketball game.”
The Busters have lost four-of-five conference matchups, with the lone win coming over an NJCAA-ranked Hutchinson squad, which could have been the impetus for a GCCC turnaround but has not manifested, yet.
“Every time we get going, something goes awry,” Nee said.
Tony Hopkins gave the Busters a 52-51 lead with 6:14 to go, before the Busters missed a defensive rebound on the other end and Taylor put back a layup to give Pratt back the lead. Then, Hopkins was trying to get an offensive set going on the other end, lost his handle for a second and ended up losing the ball for another Taylor layup.
After a Hopkins free throw, the Busters lost a Beavers’ shooter on an inbound play from under Pratt’s basket, and Drew Maschoff sunk a wide open three to put the Beavers up 59-53.
Garden City never recovered.
Taylor finished with a game-high 22 points, while the Busters were led by Jamir Thomas’ 17. Pearson had 14 points and Hopkins 13.