GCCC lets lead slip away, falls to Barton, 88-79

GCCC Sports Information Services
Garden City Community College's KJ Marshall Jr. is fouled as he heads to the basket off a screen by Khadim Samb against Barton County Wednesday at Perryman Athletic Complex.

Finishing games has been an issue early in the season for Cole Dewey's team. And for the second straight game, a double-digit lead in the second half disintegrated right in front of their eyes.  

Jaheim Holden scored 16 points off the bench, Marshall-transfer Cameron Brooks-Harris chipped in 15, and Barton roared back from 13 down in the second half to hand Garden City Community College its second straight loss, 88-79 at Conestoga Arena.

"We have to rebound better, and we have to guard better," a frustrated Dewey said afterwards. "Obviously we did not shoot the ball well, but we just have to guard better. I mean they (Barton) shot 60 percent in the second half. "

It was reminiscent of last year's performance by Barton against Garden City, when Craig Fletchall's bunch broke the program record for highest field goal percentage in a game. That night, they missed just four shots in the second half. More than a year later, the Cougars were at it again, hitting 17-of-27 from the floor (63 percent) over the final 20 minutes.

In all honestly, the game should never have been close because as hot as the Cougars were after the intermission, they couldn't buy a bucket in the first half. In fact, Barton missed 18 of their first 24 shots. But the Broncbusters could never create separation, thanks in large part to Denver Jones being in foul trouble the majority of the opening period.

"We have to learn how to finish games," Dewey said. "We had 10 guys tonight who all played really hard. But we have to be smart. We have to put teams away."

Meantime, Garden City came out on fire. Despite Jones being limited to just six minutes in the first half, the Broncbusters controlled the period. Jaduhkiss Soto, who went 0-for-7 in Monday night's loss at Pratt, dropped in consecutive layups, University of Idaho transfer, Khadim Samb drilled a 3 from the wing, and the home team was up nine, 26-17 with 7:09 left in the half. Soto added two more buckets, and Samb pushed in a two-handed layup against three defenders, giving Garden City a 41-34 lead at the break.

"I think defensively, we made a lot of mistakes," Dewey said. "But it goes back to rebounding, we have to rebound. We gave up 10 offensive rebounds. There's just no excuse for that."

Early in the final frame, Garden City extended the lead to 13 after Soto swished two free throws with 16:47 to play. But the game shifted moments later when Jones picked up his fourth foul and was summoned to the bench. And that's all it took for the Cougars to seize control. Barton stormed back with 11 straight points, capped off by Shawn Warrior's dunk that sliced the Broncbusters lead to two. A few minutes later, following Desean Munson's two free throws that tied the contest at 64, Holden created space off the bounce before burying a jumper from the right elbow to give the road team their first lead of the game.

"I'm glad we had 10 guys who were fully engaged in this game," Dewey explained. "When that happens, it gives us a chance."

Garden City grabbed the lead back momentarily once Jones rattled home two free throws. But it was short lived once Barton hit them with a 13-3 spurt that gave the Cougars a seven-point cushion. They built that to as high as 11 in the final minute.

"Now that we have our guys engaged, we have to figure out how to win these types of games," Dewey said.

Justin Harmon scored 13 points in 24 minutes for Barton, which captured their first road win of the season. Asanti Price nailed three triples and finished with 11, and Evans Kipruto chipped in 12 off the bench.

Soto tallied a season-high 19 points in 33 minutes for Garden City, which lost for the second straight game when leading at the half. And after shooting almost 60 percent in the first half, the Broncbusters bricked 24 of their 36 shots in the final stanza. Mohamed Diara scored 13 points and was 3-of-7 from downtown, and Samb finished with 11. Jones was held to a season-low nine points on 3-of-11.

Barton Co.  34; 54; - 88

Garden City  41; 38; - 79

Garden City will travel to Dodge City on Saturday for a 3 p.m. game.