Broncbusters come up short at Colby

GCCC Sports Information Services
Garden City Community College's JJ Watson, left, drives to the basket past Dodge City's Dhieu Deing on March 20 at Perryman Athletic Complex.

COLBY - To say it's been a strange year for Colby would be a massive understatement. The Trojans went through a three-week stretch where COVID spread like wildfire, forcing them to cancel seven games including their first matchup with Garden City Community College. And while this iteration of Rusty Elmore's team isn't as talented as the 2019 squad that made the National Tournament for the first time in school history, they are streaky, and Monday night they caught fire.

Ahmad Johnson poured in 19 points off the bench including five 3's in the first half, Anthony Marshall tallied 15 points and a season-high 12 assists, and Colby stormed past Garden City 79-62 at the Community Building. It was the Broncbusters fifth straight loss, dropping them into sixth place in the Jayhawk West and a likely showdown with Butler in the opening round of the Region Tournament.

"We just didn't play with any heart," assistant coach, Zach Towle said afterwards. "That's our issue right now. It has been for the past couple of weeks."

It definitely didn't help that Denver Jones missed his fifth straight game with a foot injury. And once again, the Broncbusters looked loss offensively without their star player.

Meantime Colby played their best game of the season and immediately hit Garden City with a knockout blow.

Johnson canned two triples, and Tryone Marshall cashed in a long ball from the left corner, giving the Trojans an 11-0 lead. After Jaduhkiss Soto got the Broncbusters on the board with back-to-back buckets, it was Johnson again, drilling two more 25-footers before draining a contested triple from the right wing to make it 30-14 with 8:03 remaining in the half.

"Our defense was slow," Towle explained. "But that goes back to our grit. We had a good practice on Sunday, but it didn't show tonight."

Garden City did manage to punch back late in the period. Mohhamed Diarra powered home a two-hand dunk, JJ Watson drained a 3-pointer, and Riny Lual made a reverse layup with his back to the basket, cutting the Trojans lead to eight at the break, 35-27.

"I thought we had some momentum there," Towle said. "We showed a little fight."

But Colby quickly extinguished any hopes of a comeback, and frustrations boiled over for Head Coach, Cole Dewey.

With Garden City down 12 four minutes into the second half, Diarra was whacked across the side of the face. Much to the dismay of Dewey, no call was made, enraging the first-year coach, who let official, Dwight Nicholson have it.

"The first technical, I can understand," Towle said. "The second one was a little strange to me. Coach figured he would get the first one, but that second one came quick."

Dewey had every right to be infuriated by the no call, but it cost his team dearly.  Jayrese Williams drained four technical free throws, Johnson flew in from the right wing for a thunderous jam, and Colby was up 51-31. They pushed that to as many as 27 following Rasheet Wilson's jumper with 9:05 to go that made it 65-38.

"Without Denver, we are really struggling on offense," Towle admitted. "And I want everyone to know that he does so much more than just score. He puts other guys in a position to be successful, and right now we are really missing that."

Colby finished the night 27-of-54 from the floor and 10-of-25 on 3s, the third time this year that they knocked down double-digit triples. But the Trojans changed this game with their interior defense, swatting a season-best 13 shots including a career-high seven by Matt McFarlane. Domonic Harvey finished with 16 points, none bigger than a breakaway jam late in the second half where (Anthony) Marshall threw the ball of the backboard to the sophomore, who hammered it home with two hands.

Watson paced the Broncbusters with 16 points off the bench, but he was just 4-of-14 from the field. Jasman Sangha chipped in 10 but missed 14 shots, and Diarra grabbed a season-high 16 rebounds.

GARDEN CITY  27; 35; - 62

COLBY  35; 44; - 79