Garden City drops opener at Cowley, 101-89

GCCC Sports Information Services

ARKANSAS CITY - Not that first-year coach Cole Dewey is into moral victories but going toe to toe with a team that produced one of the most prolific offenses in the country last year definitely says a lot. But in the end, the Broncbusters just ran out of gas.

Dalen Ridgnal scored 22 points to lead five Cowley players in double figures, Cevin Clark drilled a game-bests four 3s, and the Tigers pushed past Garden City, 101-89, Wednesday night at William S. Scott Auditorium.

"I am proud of how our guys competed," Dewey said. "I just think we were tired at the end."

Not surprising, considering how much energy the Broncbusters expended building an early seven-point advantage in Cowley's home gym. Denver Jones hit a pair of free throws, Jaduhkiss Soto canned a 3, and Garden City was up 29-22 with 8:26 remaining in the first half.

"I thought our defense in the first half was very good," Dewey explained. "We defended our butts off. But Cowley is a really good team. You have to do it for 40 minutes."

And with seven starters back from last year's league championship squad, the Tigers are once again favorites in the east. They're also one of the most dangerous teams in the land. The final eight-minute stretch of the first have proved just that.

As quickly as Garden City built that lead, is how fast it disintegrated. Cowley hit the Broncbusters with a 17-4 barrage, capped with back-to-back treys from Clark; the second of which came off a secondary break with the sophomore stepping in rhythm from the top of the key.

"Cowley did not shoot the ball well in their first couple of games," Dewey admitted. "But we knew that they were capable."

After shooting less than 35 percent in their two losses to NOC Tonkawa to open the season, which included a combined 12-of-69 from 3 (17 percent), the Tigers found a little more rhythm on Wednesday. They canned nine 3's over the first 20 minutes, turning a seven-point deficit into a 12-point lead at the break.

"That was the story of the game," Dewey said. "They just keep the pressure on you."

But credit the Broncbusters. Even after getting knocked to the canvas several times, Garden City stayed the course. And once Cowley went up 14 with 16:59 to go, the brown and gold made their move.

With Khadim Samb saddled with foul trouble most of the night, the Broncbusters finally found a spark. Jasman Sangha hit a two-foot flip shot, Denver Jones finished off a contested layup inside, Mohamed Diarra splashed home a 23-footer; then skied for a two-handed flush on a perfect wing pass from KJ Marshall, highlighting a 13-0 run that pulled the Broncbusters to within one, 64-63 with 13:49 remaining.

But just like the first half, Cowley didn't stay down for long. The Tigers responded with a 13-3 surge, and when Mike'l Henderson delivered a perfect pocket pass to Clark for a corner 3, Cowley was up 11, 77-66. They pushed that lead to as high as 18 after Ridgnal rattled home a pair of freebies in the final three minutes.

"We can only get better from here," Dewey said. "We will have our time this season, that's for sure."

Jones led the way for Garden City with 26 points on an efficient 5-of-9 shooting. He also tied the school record for free throw attempts in a single game, finishing 16-of-19 in 33 minutes. Sangha tallied a career-high 22 points and 15 rebounds, and Marshall, the transfer from the University of Pittsburgh, delivered 10 dimes to go along with 13 points.

Garden City  42; 47; - 89

Cowley  54; 47; - 101

Garden City will have its home opener on Saturday when they host Clarendon at 4 p.m.