A 25-3 run by Independence to end the first half of Wednesday’s Region VI first round game sunk the Garden City Community College Broncbusters, who could not come rally in the second half, ending their season in a 71-66 loss.
The Busters led 21-12 midway through the first half, before they managed just a single field goal — an RJ Pair three-pointer — over the next 10-plus minutes, bleeding into the second half. By the end, the host Pirates led 39-24.
“We got out to a great start until the media timeout,” GCCC head coach Patrick Nee said. “After that, we had guys taking turns with poor shot selection. We shot way too many threes, and that turned into easy transition buckets for Independence.
“Bad threes are almost like turnovers because it leads to easy buckets.”
The Busters went 8 for 33 from deep, and were 5 of 21 in the first half. They tried to claw their way back into the game, going on an 8-0 run to make it 39-32 early in the second half. But they never got closer than seven points until 2:37 was left in the game, when Pair sunk a jumper to make it 64-59, and then answered Ricky Edwards’ layup for Indy with a three-pointer to pull within 66-62.
But Pair then missed a trey on the next Buster possession, and Independence’s Tyreece Berry made a couple of free throws to pull back ahead by six. Russhard Cruickshank got a layup to make it 68-64, but Berry went to the line once again and sunk two more freebies.
The Busters got a couple of free throws at the buzzer to cut the final deficit, but it was Independence that was advancing to the Region VI quarterfinals in Park City.
“We basically only played six guys in the second half, because I wasn’t pleased with the effort and focus of a few freshmen,” Nee said. “With that being said, I think we ran out of gas.
“We had our chances, but just could not do enough to steal this game.”
The Busters end the season at 13-18. Independence (16-15) was the only team from the East Division to win Wednesday, as the Pirates will now play Seward County at 1 p.m. Sunday at Hartman Arena.
Cruickshank ended with 20 points to lead GCCC, and Pair had 18. Jamir Thomas had 11 points, but on 5-of-13 shooting, with just two rebounds. Independence was led by Jibril Harris’ 20 points and Edwards had 17.