Broncbusters mount comeback for win over NWT

GCCC Sports Information Services
Garden City Community College's Mohamed Diarra, left, goes up for a basket in the lane over Northwest Technical's Hants Louis-Jeune Saturday at Perryman Athletic Complex.  GCCC came back from 20 points down in the second half to claim the victory, 78-77.

Head Coach Cole Dewey called the second half of his team's loss to Hutchinson some of the worst basketball he's seen in a long time. However, his feelings may have changed after watching the first 20 minutes of Saturday's showdown with Northwest Tech when Garden City Community College dug themselves a massive hole. But the good news for the first-year coach, his team hit the proverbial switch down the stretch, and at times, it was breathtaking to watch.

Denver Jones and Jaduhkiss Soto combined to score 40 points, Mohamed Diarra tallied 13 off the bench including a vicious two-handed go-ahead slam in the final 20 seconds, and Garden City stormed back from 20 down to beat Northwest Tech 78-77 at Conestoga Arena. It was the Broncbusters fourth win in their last five games pushing them to 7-5 overall and 6-5 in conference play.

"In the end, all that matters is that we got it done," Dewey said afterwards. "Obviously we put ourselves in a really bad position in the first half."

Truthfully, being in a bad position may have been enviable for Dewey and his staff, considering the brown and gold looked lifeless in the opening period. In fact, the coaching staff may serve themselves better and sleep easier if they just burn the tape of the first half.

The second half, more specifically, the stretch run, now that's a different story.

Malik Lacewell canned a pair of 3-pointers in the first 2:30 of the final period, giving Northwest Tech, a team that lost their first 10 games of the season and entered Saturday's contest a league-worst 1-11, a 20-point cushion, 48-28. That could have easily been the breaking point for Garden City, a program that's had their fair share of adversity this season. Instead, it galvanized them, and Dewey's bunch produced a season-saving comeback.

Soto drained a 3 from the top of the key and converted a three-point play, Diarra dunked the ball in transition, and Garden City scored eight straight points to cut the deficit to 12. Moments later, JJ Watson splashed home a midrange jumper, then knocked down two free throws, Jones slithered his way to the cup, and Diarra banked in a two-footer, pulling the Broncbusters to within eight, 59-51 with 9:32 remaining.

"I never really felt like we were out of the game even when we were down 20," Dewey said. "But man, that clock was ticking fast in the second half."

Trailing by eight with less than eight minutes to go, Soto came through again, driving all the way to the rim, Khadim Samb rattled in a 15-foot jumper, and Diarra canned a trey to make it a five-point contest. Samb sprinkled in another long ball from the left wing before Soto cashed in a straight-on triple, and just like that, it was a one-point contest with 5:00 on the clock.

"I don't know if we would have to play another minute or two, that we would have pulled this thing out," Dewey added. "Thank goodness we didn't have to."

Jones made sure of that.

The freshman, who's having one of the most efficient seasons for a guard in school history, sliced his way to the basket for an and-1 layup that tied the game at 68. But that was just the appetizer; the main course was even spicier. On Northwest Tech's ensuing possession, KJ Marshall stole the ball; then fed it back to Garden City's leading scorer, who, with two lanky steps took off from just outside the right lane line and pulverized the rim with a right-hand jam. It was almost as if Jones took out 25-minutes' worth of frustration on one nasty dunk that even had former Broncbuster great Keith Smart smiling from the west coast.

"That's something that he needs to do more often," Dewey admitted. "That's the type of player he is. He's so explosive. We need him to fire the crowd up and fire the team up."

Jones basket-shaking thump was the beginning of the end for the Mavericks, who after taking a one-point lead on Tyrecke Francois' layup with 40 seconds to play, watched helplessly as Diarra swooped in from the baseline and posturized Hantz Louis-Jeune with a monster two-handed finish plus the foul on the other end. The freshman did leave the door cracked by missing the free throw, but Jordan Shelley's five-foot push shot in the final seconds rolled off the left rim, giving Garden City a dramatic one-point victory.

"I loved our guys' resiliency," Dewey said. "They never went away, and even after Northwest Tech hit a shot; our guys came right back."

Samb finished with 11 points and five boards off the bench for Garden City, which shot over 50 percent from the floor for the fourth time this season. Marshall added six assists, and Diarra had a team-best nine rebounds.

Francois poured in 16 points in 22 minutes in a reserve role for Northwest Tech, which lost its 21st consecutive road game. Lacewell added 15, and Shelley scored 13 but was just 3-of-10 from the field.

"We can't keep putting ourselves in that situation," Dewey said.

After a week off, the Broncbusters didn't appear to have any lingering effects, racing out to a 9-2 lead in the first four minutes. But the Mavericks responded with a 17-5 run capped off with a Jacari Chambers' jumper that put the visiting team up 19-14. They pushed that to eight moments later on Brandon Kabuya's second-chance bucket, then went for the kill with a 17-4 blitz over the final seven minutes of the half that included Louis-Jeune's baseline jam and Shelley's coast-to-coast buzzer-beating layup that had Northwest Tech up 42-25 at the intermission.   

NW TECH  42; 35; - 77

GARDEN CITY  25; 53; - 78

Garden City was back in action on Monday, hosting Pratt.