Short-handed Buffaloes fall to Liberal, 56-38

GCHS Athletics
Garden City High School's Julie Calzonetti, left, drives in to the lane for a basket against Hays earlier this season at GCHS.

Sub-State loss ends Pfeifer’s best season

The Wednesday Class 6A sub-state semifinal basketball game at Liberal’s Big House was eerily reminiscent of the final regular season contest between the Garden City  Buffaloes and the host Liberal Redskins.

The result was also the same, this time Garden falling 56-38 in the postseason playoff game to see their best season in several years end with an 11-6 record. It had been a 53-40 setback to end the regular season.

With Liberal holding a slender halftime lead this time, 22-18, as opposed to a 28-14 intermission advantage 8 days earlier, the Buffs drew within a basket at 24-22 just two minutes into the third quarter. The regular season battle had watched the Buffs trim that double-digit deficit to a single basket with 6 minutes remaining in the game.

Wednesday night’s near duplicate scenario saw the Buffs go nearly three minutes without scoring while Liberal enjoyed a 9-2 run to put them up 33-24. By the end of the third quarter, the No. 2-seeded Liberal squad was up by 11, 38-27.

Any hopes of a Buffs’ rally ended quickly in the fourth quarter when Liberal scored the first 8 points to extend their lead to 46-27 with just more than 5 minutes left. Turnovers proved costly to the Lady Buffs in the final 16 minutes.

The Buffaloes struggled scoring from the field, finishing with just 9 baskets, four of those coming from 3-point range. They did hit 16-of-22 free throws.

Senior Julie Calzonetti took scoring honors for the Buffs with 11 points while sophomore Aileen Becerril added 10. Liberal got double-figure scoring from its trio of standouts – Ashley Carrillo getting game high honors with 17 points, followed by Bree Horyna with 16 and Audrey Warden with 10.

The 11-6 mark is the best for the Buffs since the 2012-13 season when they went 17-4 under previous head coach David Upton. Pfeifer’s 2018-2019 team posted a 12-10 record.

Liberal will now face No. 1-seeded Dodge City on Saturday in Dodge City after the Red Demons dispatched No. 4 seed Hutchinson, 52-29, also on Wednesday night. Dodge City is 19-1. The winner advances to the 6A state quarterfinals which begin next Tuesday.

In a format change due to COVID-19, state quarterfinal games will be played between winners of specific sub-states and be played at the team with the higher seed (record). Either Dodge City or Liberal would be the higher-seeded team and host a quarterfinal game on Tuesday against the winner of the Derby (16-4) vs. Wichita Southeast (15-5) sub-state. The four winners advance to the state semifinals on Friday, March 12, and will be seeded by their season record, with 1 vs. 4 and 2 vs. 3. Championship games are slated for Saturday, March 13 at Wichita State University’s Koch Arena. There are no third place games this year.

GARDEN CITY (38) – Calzonetti 3 4-8 11, Becerril 3 2-2 10, Flores 1 3-4 5, Simmons 1 3-4 5, Turner 1 4-4 7. Totals 9 16-22 38.

LIBERAL (56) – Carrillo 4 7-9 17, Hay 2 0-0 6, Payton 1 0-0 2, Hallman 2 1-4 5, Horyna 7 2-2 16, Warden 3 4-5 10. Totals 19 14-20 56.

Garden City (11-6) 9; 9; 9; 11; - 38

Liberal (17-4) 7; 15; 16; 18; - 56

3-point goals: Garden City 4 (Calzonetti 1, Becerril 1, Turner 1), Liberal 4 (Carrillo 2, Hay 2). Fouls: Garden City 16, Liberal 14. Fouled out: Liberal (Carrillo).