Jones leads Garden City past Neosho, 87-80

GCCC Sports Information Services
Garden City Community College's Denver Jones, left, drives past Neosho County's Cougar Downing on his way to scoring a basket Satuday at Perrryman Athletic Complex.

Denver Jones is used to picking up the bulk of the offensive load. After all, he averaged 36 points per game in high school. But on Saturday, it was his defense that carried Garden City Community College home.

It was a subtle adjustment, one that GCCC Head Coach Cole Dewey felt he had to make at the half. Neosho's Deondre Buggage had scored 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting over the first 20 minutes. But in the final period, the freshman was held to just eight points on 2-of-10. The difference? Jones tracked him step for step and shut him down. The end result: the Broncbusters second win of the season.

Jones scored 27 points and drained four 3's, JJ Watson returned from a two-game suspension to net 20 in 16 minutes off the bench, and the Broncbusters edged Neosho 87-80 Saturday afternoon at Conestoga Arena.

"That's just our guys putting in the work every day," Dewey said afterwards. "And we finally shot the ball the way that I expect us to shoot it."

Garden City shot a season-best 52 percent from the floor, hit 14-of-28 from downtown, and dished out 18 assists. They also limited their turnovers to just 14, their first game under 20 this year.

"We recruited nothing but shooters during the recruiting process," Dewey explained. "So, we expect them to shoot the ball well."

This game looked eerily similar to the one against Clarendon just seven days ago. With the score tied at 15 in the first half, KJ Marshall, who returned from an injury that kept him out of the previous two contests, nailed a 3-pointer, Jones connected from deep, and Khadim Samb got to the bucket for a layup, fueling a 17-6 run that had the home team on top 32-21 with 5:07 left in the half. Then, moments later, Riny Lual hit 1-of-2 free throws. It was a significant time in the game, because Garden City didn't score the rest of the period. Neosho responded with 14 straight points, and when Tremaine Chesley got to the rim for 2, the Panthers had a 37-33 advantage going into the locker room.

"We should have blown them out right there," Dewey said. "But we let our guard down again."

Dewey isn't much of a chess player. But his move to pull Marshall off of Buggage and instead have Jones follow him around, proved to be more than divine intervention. It literally flipped the game over the final 20 minutes.

What's more impressive is that Jones, who logged 35 backbreaking minutes, never let up on the offensive end. And with his team trailing in the final four minutes, the freshman drained two free throws before wiggling to the rim for a deuce. After Cougar Downing hit two charity shots to put Neosho back up by one, 76-75 with 2:07 to play, it was Jones again, rattling home a 23-footer, putting a stamp on his own-personal 7-0 run that gave Garden City the lead for good.

"Today, we found a way," Dewey explained. "Our defense wasn't very good in the first half, but we really guarded in the second. That's what won us the game."

Sangha finished with 13 points and six boards for Garden City, who won their first conference game of the season. Marshall chipped in six dimes, and Mason Osborne, who left the game briefly with a twisted ankle, scored eight points off the bench.

Buggage scored 27 points for Neosho, who lost for the third time in their last four games. Chesley added 17 in 35 minutes off the bench.

Neosho Co.  37; 33; - 80

Garden City  33; 54; - 87

Garden City will face Butler at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday at El Dorado.