Garden City men knock off Dodge City, 84-79

GCCC Sports Information Services
Garden City Community Colege's Jasman Sangha, center, goes up for a basket in the lane against Barton County Feb. 24 as teammate Mohamed Diarra, left, looks on at Perryman Athletic Complex.

DODGE CITY - The word "finish" has been tossed around over and over the last three days by the Broncbuster coaching staff; almost at nauseum. After all, Cole Dewey had watched his team squander back-to-back double-digit leads in the second half. 

So, naturally, when Garden City Community College went up 12 in the final period on Saturday, Dewey put his head down. It wasn't that he didn't trust his team; it was just human nature. This time however, his squad responded, and Jaduhkiss Soto delivered his best game of the season.  

The sophomore poured in a game-high 22 points in 31 minutes, Denver Jones tallied 16 on 6-of-13 shooting, and the Broncbusters snapped a two-game slide with an 84-79 victory over the Conquistadors at the Civic Center.

"We were able to get stops on defense," Dewey said afterwards. "A lot of these games in conference are going to come down to the final two or three minutes."

The loss was detrimental to Dodge City, who at one point this season was ranked as high as No. 16. But since starting 6-0, the Conquistadors have dropped four out of their last five.

"I started laughing a little bit because there we were, up 12 at the same point in the game as the previous two, and wouldn't you know it, they came back," Dewey said.

But if Dodge City thought Garden City was going to wilt because what happened in their previous two games, then first-year Head Coach Jake Williams was sadly mistaken. If anything, the first half proved that the Broncbusters weren't backing down from this so-called juggernaut.

After the Conquistadors scored the first four points, Garden City answered with nine straight, capped by Mason Osborne's triple from the top of the key off of a secondary break. That's when Dodge City responded with a tidal wave, ambushing the Broncbusters with a 15-2 surge that had the home team up 23-17 with 8:30 remaining in the period.

"We knew they (Dodge City) were a good team, but I'm proud of how our guys responded each time they made a run," Dewey explained.

The first 20 minutes had more momentum shifts than the Broncbusters first seven games combined, and after they fell down by six, Garden City rebounded to score eight straight. Rodney "June" Lewis splashed home a 3, Mohamed Diarra connected on two free throws, and Denver Jones drilled one from deep to put the brown and gold back up by two, 25-23. It was one of six lead changes in the first half, but it wasn't the last. Dodge City's rebuttal: an 11-4 run that pushed them in front, giving the Conquistadors a two-point edge heading into the locker room.

"This league is brutal," Dewey said. "I was talking with Jake (Williams), the Head Coach at Dodge City before the game about some of the coaches in this league. We are the young guys, but I told him that there are coaches who have been doing this before we were even born. It's crazy, but that's why the competition level in this league is so fierce."

The Broncbusters were staring at a five-point hole early in the second half after Dhieu Deng hit three free throws following a foul call on Khadim Samb. But that's when Garden City opened the floodgates. Samb nailed a 3, Soto finished off a beautiful three-point play, and Diarra cashed in on a trey from straight away, putting the finishing touches on a 17-2 spurt that gave the Broncbusters their largest lead of the day, 62-50 with 12:50 remaining.

"We were aggressive in what we were doing," Dewey said. "And we played hard."

But just like in the first half and eerily similar to the Pratt and Barton games, the Conquistadors pushed Garden City against the ropes. Tyler Stallworth hit a pair of 3s, Walyn Napper, the conference's leading scorer, knocked down a rare long ball, and Deing hit a 25-foot triple near the sideline after missing his first seven shots, giving Dodge City a 71-69 edge.

"Deing is an ugly shot maker; he makes those types of shots all the time," Williams said.

Ugly or not, it could have easily been a crushing blow to a team whose confidence was already shaky after what transpired the previous week. But Dewey's squad turned a major corner down the stretch and finally put Dodge City away.

Soto converted a spinning layup then buried a backbreaking 3 from the right wing, this after clanging his previous five attempts, giving the Broncbusters the lead for good, 82-79. Diarra salted it away with two free throws after Napper and Deing missed game-tying 3's on the other end.

"The previous couple of times down, Dodge City kept yelling non shooter," Dewey explained with a chuckle. "So, before that possession, I leaned in and told Jaduhkiss that he's the best shooter that I've ever coached. And I know he heard me because as soon as he caught it, he fired it. Jaduhkiss is such a tough kid, and he was mad at himself because he wasn't hitting shots. That guy lives in the gym."

Soto finished 6-of-14 from the field with two rebounds and two steals for Garden City, who avenged last year's two-point loss in Dodge City when Tahlik Chavez's 42 points were not enough. Diarra posted his second double-double with 11 points and 11 boards, and Osborne hit three triples.

Napper scored 17 points for Dodge City but was just 6-of-15 shooting. And it was all by design. The Broncbusters deployed a box-and-1, but not on the star point guard. It was designed to mess with Deing, who struggled all afternoon. Meantime, Napper consistently dribbled into trouble, giving the ball away eight times. The sophomore transfer from the College of Central Florida is currently second in the nation in turnovers.

Garden City  38; 46; - 84

Dodge City  40; 39; - 79

Garden City was at Cloud County on Monday.