Broncbusters roll past Cloud, 80-58

GCCC Sports Information Services
Garden City Community College's JJ Watson, center, goes up for a basket in the lane past Barton County's Justin Harmon, left, and Evans Kipruto on Feb. 24 at Perryman Athletic Complex.

Watson scores 19 off bench

CONCORDIA - There is arguably no player in the league like JJ Watson. The sophomore guard can talk trash with the best of them, and when he's flapping his gums, it could be a long night for the opposition.

Monday was one of those games.

Watson poured in a game-high 19 points on 8-of-11 from the field in 21 minutes off the bench, Jaduhkiss Soto added 15 points, six rebounds and four steals, and Garden City Community College demolished Cloud County 80-58 at Arley Bryant Gymnasium.

"JJ is definitely a different type of player," assistant coach, Zach Towle said after the game. "He's like an NBA guy with how much trash he talks. He definitely plays with an edge."

It can't be overstated enough: when Watson is going, the Broncbusters are practically unbeatable. In fact, Garden City is now 3-1 in games where scores 10 points or more.

"That's just what JJ does," Towle added. "He can score with anyone."

Playing without Jasman Sangha, who sat for a second straight game with a hip injury, Head Coach, Cole Dewey went with a small lineup to start the contest-putting four wings on the floor with point guard KJ Marshall. And the early returns were really good."That lineup allows us to do so many things," Towle explained. "We can switch everything on defense."

And besides Watson, the defensive performance was a major storyline on Monday as the Broncbusters limited Cloud to just 30 percent from the floor and 6-of-28 on 3s (21 percent). It was a multitude of schemes ranging from a triangle-and-two to a 2-3 zone that had the Thunderbirds completely off balance.

"Everybody in this league is junking it up, so we kind of joined the party," Towle said with a smirk. "We've got the guys to be able to defend."

The offense was pretty good too.

Trailing by two nine minutes into the game, Rodney "June" Lewis nailed a 3-pointer from the corner to put the Broncbusters in front for good. Watson followed with a triple, Marshall added a three-point play, and Khadim Samb swished a 3 that put Garden City up 27-19. They stretched that to 10 later in the half when Watson canned a trey from the top of the key before hitting nothing but net on a long ball from the left hash mark. Soto sprinkled in a nifty finish with the left hand and a three-point play, and the brown and gold had a 46-28 edge going into the locker room.  

"That was an NBA-type 3 from JJ," Towle said. "And he didn't even hesitate."

The sharpshooting continued in the second half when Denver Jones put the finishing touches on a brilliant 13-0 run with a step-back 3 from the top of the key that had Garden City up 49-28. Moments later, Watson maneuvered to the rim, slithering under the armpit of Eduardo Peralta-Garcia before curling home a right-handed layup. Samb followed with a fallaway jumper in the paint, Mohamed Diarra rattled the rim with a two-handed jam, and the Broncbusters had a 24-point cushion. They pushed that to as many as 25 later in the half when Watson drew two defenders before slipping a perfect pocket pass to Riny Lual, who skied in for a vicious slam.

"This was still kind of an ugly win, but we figured it out," Towle said. "But it's nice to have a win and not have to sweat at the end of the game."

The Broncbuster bench outscoring Cloud County 40-13. They won the rebounding battle 40-32 and outscored the Thunderbirds in the paint 40-32. Soto finished 6-of-12 from the floor, Diarra posted his second straight double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds, and Jones chipped in 13, three assists and two steals.

Malang Athian scored 18 points and hit four 3's for Cloud, which lost their fourth straight game. Ibrahim Drame added 14 and 10 boards.

Garden City  46; 34; - 80

Cloud Co.  28; 30; - 58

Garden City was at Seward County on Wednesday night.