Camree Johnson drove the lane, but ran into the taller Symone Simmons in the paint — no matter, Johnson got the flailing floater over Simmons to go, helping her Dodge City Red Demons pull away late in a 46-39 win over Garden City on Tuesday evening at The Garden.
The host Buffaloes (7-6, 1-2) never got that offensive spark, hitting just 35.5 percent of their shots from the field, including 3 of 11 from deep.
“I just thought we never had good enough spacing, and we didn’t move the ball,” GCHS head coach Matt Pfeifer said. “We just never really found a rhythm.”
Neither did the Red Demons (6-7, 2-0) really, but they got a brilliant individual effort from Camree Johnson, who scored nine of the Demons’ 15 field goals, finishing with 19 points on nine of 12 from the field to keep the Demons in front for the entire second half.
“I felt like we got some runouts, some transition buckets that really fueled us defensively,” Dodge City head coach Kelley Snodgrass said. “We were able to execute, we got Kisa (Unruh) some shots, and then Camree Johnson said, ‘You can’t guard me’ and did some really good things for us.”
It was Johnson who stopped a Buffs’ 5-0 run in the third quarter that pulled Garden City within 27-26 when Johnson was on the bench. But Johnson subbed in and immediately scored on a cutback.
Early in the fourth quarter, it was Johnson who sunk a three-pointer to put the Demons up 35-28. Garden City never pulled within a single possession again.
The Buffs got 10 points from Symone Simmons on a perfect three-of-three shooting. They also got nine points from Felicity Rodriguez, but no other scorer had more than six.
“Partly tired legs, partly losing some confidence early, and you don’t see the ball go in early,” Pfeifer said of the Buffs’ offensive struggles. “It just sort of goes downhill from there.”
When the Buffs did get off shots in the first half, they were pretty good at making them, hitting 41.7 percent in the first 16 minutes.
But the problem was they got off just 12 shots total, making five, and going to the free-throw line just six times. Meanwhile, Dodge City, thanks to 12 Buffs’ turnovers and a rebounding edge, got 17 shots off and went to the free-throw line 10 times.
After Simmons made it 8-3 Buffs midway through the first quarter, the Buffs would not score again for nearly 9 minutes of game time.
“We’ve got to find a way to not have that one bad stretch,” Pfeifer said. “Whether it’s early, middle or late (in the game), we always have that one stretch where we have a hard time making shots.”
During the dry spell, the Demons went on a 12-0 run to take command of the game. They never trailed again, en route to break a three-game skid after going 0-3 in the Mid-America Tournament in McPherson.
“McPherson was rough,” Snodgrass said. “It’s always a good level of competition, but we didn’t play to the level we wanted, and when the shots don’t fall, sometimes when you’re young, that takes away the energy from your defense.”