Stephens leads GCCC to blowout win

GCCC Sports Information Services
Garden City Community College's Jill Stephens goes up for a three-point basket from the baseline Saturday against Northwest Technical. Stephens scored 24 points in the game to lead the Broncbusters.

Antwain Scales always knew what Jill Stephens was capable of. And on Saturday, the freshman from Colby showed major promise with an absolutely breathtaking shooting display.

Stephens hit seven 3's and finished with a game-high 24 points, Taylor Lawhorne chipped in 10 points, seven rebounds and two blocks off the bench, and Garden City Community College overcame a sluggish start to blast Northwest Tech 66-48 at Conestoga Arena. The Broncbusters won for the third time in their last four games and improved to 7-7 overall and 6-7 in conference play. They're currently fourth in the Jayhawk West.

"Jill took some shots today that we've been begging her to take all year," Scales said afterwards. "It was just a matter of her building confidence."

Stephens, who missed her first three triple attempts, finished by nailing seven of her last nine. And after Saturday's performance, the freshman is now seventh in the nation in 3-point percentage.

"She turned down some good looks, so that has to be alarming for an opponent knowing the potential of what she still can be," Scales explained.

But it wasn't all roses and candy on this day. The Broncbusters missed on 11 of their first 12 shots and were sitting on two points for more than half of the first period. But maybe an unexpected power outage at the scorer's table early in the first half infused some juice into Scales' bunch. And down by three 30 seconds into the second period, Garden City scored eight of the next 10 points, capped with a Stephens' long ball. 60 seconds later, the freshman hit again before dropping in a 23-footer in the final 90 seconds of the half, helping polish off an 8-2 run to close the period that had the Broncbusters up 29-21 at the break.

"We know what Jill is capable of," Scales reiterated. "Now it just comes down to shooting with confidence."

Stephens' long-range display was far from finished, and late in the third quarter the sharpshooter dropped in a high-arching rainbow 3 that brought the student section to its feet. Aerihna Afoa followed with a triple moments later, and Garden City was up 45-33 going to the fourth. Then in the final period, after Justis Odom hit two free throws, Stephens came off a down screen and got loose in the corner for 3. And with five minutes to go, one of Scales' first signings when he arrived in Garden City back in the Spring, nailed her seventh and final trey of the game, a shot that hit nothing but net that put the Broncbusters ahead 54-41. They pushed that to as high as 21 following Donetria McGee's two freebies with 2:09 to go.

"This performance just isn't going to cut it against better teams in this league," Scales explained. "These players have to understand that."

The Broncbusters connected on 11-of-28 from downtown, their third straight game with 10 or more triples. They also posted 17 assists, bringing their total to 37 over the last eight quarters.

Alonna Harvey-Williams scored a season-high 24 points for Northwest Tech, which played without star point guard Lauryn Vieira for a fourth straight game due to an ankle injury. Chloe Andrew added 14 but finished 1-of-10 from 3.

NW TECH  10; 11; 12; 15; - 48

GARDEN CITY  10; 19; 16; 21; - 66

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