Third quarter dooms Broncbusters in loss

GCCC Sports Information Services
Garden City Community College's Justis Odom, right hauls in a pass along the lane in front of Barton County's Rebecca Leveque, left, and Gabby Flute Player Wednesday at Perryman Athletic Complex.

Antwain Scales called the first six minutes of Monday night's game vs. Pratt, the best he had ever seen any of his teams play at any level. But then they blew a 17-point lead and lost the game. 48 hours later, the same scenario played out again, and all Scales could do was watch.

Gabby Flute Player scored a season-high 15 points, Vanessa Oduah added 12 and nine boards, and Barton erased an 11-point first half deficit to down Garden City Community College, 55-46, Wednesday night at Conestoga Arena.

"We're just not finishing games," Scales said. "I don't know if it's fatigue; I just don't know. We have to figure it out."

That's now back-to-back contests that Garden City has blown double-digit leads. And though the Broncbusters didn't have a first quarter like they did Monday night, they were pretty efficient in the first half.

Leading by three going into the second, Colby transfer, Brittany Mapang connected from the midrange, Kealani Neves swished two free throws, and Taylor Lawhorne got inside for a sensational reverse layup that put the Broncbusters up 27-16 with 2:15 remaining in the half. But they were limited to just a single point the rest of the period as the Cougars scored the final six points of the frame to pull to within four at the intermission, 28-24.

"We are just losing our train of thought and not capitalizing on opportunities," Scales mentioned.

And the third quarter definitely didn't help Garden City's cause. The Broncbusters missed on 14 of their 17 shots including all six attempts from downtown and were limited to just six points. And when Player knocked down a 12-footer along the baseline, the Cougars had tied the game at 34 going to the fourth.

"This is what happens when you're not mentally tough enough to finish games," Scales said. "It's' happened to us two nights in a row. We have to get this fixed."

In the fourth, Barton continued to surge, utilizing a 12-4 run that put them in front, 38-36-their first lead since early in the first quarter. But that wasn't the dagger; that came on three plays down the stretch-two of which ended in 3-pointers by Player from the left wing. The other was a beautiful design by Cougars' Head Coach Alan Clark, who instructed Player to set a back screen for Dortland. And it worked, freeing the sophomore from Russell, KS for a layup on a gorgeous find from Vanessa Oduah that made it a five-point game. Dortland followed that up with four free throws in the final 43 seconds, and Barton handed the Broncbusters their second straight loss.

"We lost this game on a layup," Scales said. "And it's a play that we knew was coming, and that we had prepared for. But we didn't execute."

The Cougars won the game despite a 3-of-11 night from downtown, their second worst shooting game from distances this season. And they missed seven free throws. But their defense held Garden City to just 18 points over the final 20 minutes.

Justis Odom scored 14 points for the Broncbusters, which blew a double-digit lead for the third time this season (Coffeyville-10, Pratt-17, Barton-11).

Barton Co.  11; 13; 10; 21; - 55

Garden City  14; 14; 6; 12; - 46

Garden City’s next game will be at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Dodge City.