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GCHS basketball sweeps Liberal in home openers

Brad Nading
Garden City Telegram
Garden City High School's Keyhana Turner hit four free throws in the closing 30 seconds of the game to help seal a victory Tuesday over Liberal, 42-38, at GCHS. The Buffaloes are now 2-0 in the WAC.

Garden City High School’s basketball teams played their third games of the season, and in five days, on Tuesday, with these games being the home opener for each.

While playing in front of the home crowd, although small in numbers with the COVID-19 pandemic protocol, the Buffaloes came away with a pair of Western Athletic Conference wins over Liberal. The girls won a nail biter, 42-38, and the boys grabbed a 71-54 victory.

Entering the girls game, Garden City had a 1-0 record in the WAC and 1-1 overall. Liberal had a 2-0 WAC record and was undefeated with a 6-0 record.

The lead bounced back and forth through the first quarter, with Liberal taking a 13-12 lead going into the second. Garden City grabbed the lead going into halftime 23-18.  The Buffaloes only could manage a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter but still held on to a one-point lead, 29-28, going in to the fourth.  

The final minutes of the game provided all the tension and excitement for two evenly matched teams.

With a minute left in the game, Liberal’s Halle Payton hit a 3-pointer to tie the score at 37-37.  The teams traded possessions with no points until Garden City’s Keyhana Turner was fouled with 25.3 seconds left, going to the line for two shots. Turner hit both free throws to give the Buffaloes a 39-37 lead. On the ensuing possession, Liberal’s Aubrey Warden was fouled with 8.3 seconds left. Warden missed the first free throw but made the second to make the score 39-38 in favor of Garden City. The Buffaloes’ Melody Flores was fouled with 5.4 seconds left and made 1 of 2 from the line to give GCHS a 40-38 lead.

Liberal, on the inbounds pass from midcourt, tossed the ball through the hands of one of its players by the baseline and out of bounds, giving the ball to Garden City with 3.1 seconds left. Turner was fouled on the inbounds and sank a pair of free throws to seal the win for the Buffaloes.

In the fourth quarter, Garden City was 9 of 10 from the free-throw line, with Turner going 6 of 6.

Aileen Becerril led the Buffaloes with 11 points, including three 3-pointers. Symone Simmons added 10 points for the Buffaloes.

Liberal’s Ashley Carrilo was the top scorer in the game with 23 points.

Liberal girls; 13; 5; 10; 10; - ;38

Garden City; 12; 11; 6; 13; - ;42

Garden City High School's Chris Grant, right, drives in for a basket Tuesday against Liberal at GCHS. The Buffaloes won the WAC contest, 71-54.

In the boys matchup, Garden City took the early lead through the first quarter, 16-14 going into the second. The Buffaloes scored 18 in the second, including Caleb Wiese going 6 for 6 from the free-throw line, to take a 34-29 lead into halftime.

Liberal outscored the Buffaloes 13-11 in the third, but GCHS still held a 45-42 lead going in to the fourth.  The fourth quarter proved to be all Garden City, as the Buffaloes had their best offensive quarter of the game. GCHS outscored Liberal 26-12 to seal the victory.

Garden City hit 18 2-point shots in the game and six 3-pointers. They were also 17 of 23 from the charity stripe for 74%.

The Buffaloes' Tae Rosales led all scoring with 26 points. Garden City had nine players score during the game.

Embry Williams led Liberal’s scoring with 22 points.

The Buffaloes are back on the road Friday when they travel to WAC foe Hays.

Liberal boys; 14; 15; 13; 12; - ;54

Garden City; 16; 18; 11; 26; - ;71