DODGE CITY — Garden City junior Carlos Acosta’s first shot at heroics, with about 13 seconds left Tuesday night and the Buffaloes down 62-60 to rival Dodge City, missed. But his teammate, senior Jackson Dirks, recovered an offensive rebound tipped by the hands of senior Jarrod Springston and put it in to tie the game at 62.
Acosta didn’t have to wait long for his second chance.
On the ensuing inbounds play, as Dodge City’s best scorer, senior Noah Sowers, rushed up the court with the ball, Acosta chased him down from behind and swiped at the ball. Acosta nearly lost his footing trying to recover the loose ball, but he recovered it, tightroped his way down the sideline and was fouled as he drove to the basket.
With 2.5 seconds to go, Acosta hit 1-of-2 free throws, and in the end it was enough as Dodge City missed a long, desperation shot at the buzzer and the Buffaloes held on for a thrilling, 63-62 win.
“It all kind of happened before I even could see it happen, to be honest,” Garden City head boys basketball coach Jacy Holloway said afterward about Acosta’s play.
The Buffaloes had a couple of players who were still down near their basket as the Red Demons inbounded the ball, said Holloway, adding that Acosta play was big.
“Carlos comes out of nowhere, makes a huge play and then I think he hesitated actually when he first got it. He thought about calling timeout,” Holloway said. “But then he was able to get to the rim, get fouled and finish it at the free-throw line.”
“It’s pretty simple, they got on the floor for the loose ball, we didn’t,” Red Demon head boys basketball coach Tony Starnes said. “They made the little plays, they got offensive rebound and the putback late, and then there were two good guys, as in Dodge City guys, over there with the ball and there was one guy from Garden, and the guy from Garden was willing to get on the floor for the loose ball. We weren’t, so little things add up to big things.”
Acosta finished with 12 points, as did Springston. Dirks had 10 points. Senior Kyler Lamb had a team-high 13 points, and junior Azavier Williams had 12. In the end, all five starters for the Buffaloes finished in double-figures on the scoreboard.
Holloway said the first takeaway he had from the game is that “we probably don’t want to see them again.” He pointed out that the two teams had played to overtime in Garden City. In addition to the fact it’s a rivalry, the two teams play well against each other.
“The focus of these games is just a little bit higher I think than some of the other games,” Holloway said.
He said he thought the Buffaloes ran their sets well, as did Dodge City.
“It’s just a tough game,” Holloway said.
The Buffaloes also overcame the efforts of Sowers, who had a game-high 17 points. Red Demon junior John Johnson had 12 points, and senior Adrian Mendoza also had 12.
“It’s still at the end of the game finding ways to win, whether it’s a crazy offensive rebound to a steal, to going to the free-throw line and finishing the game,” Holloway said.