GCCC comes back to defeat Cloud by 20

GCCC Sports Information Services
Garden City Community College's Justis Odom, right, drives the lane between Cloud County's LeYanna McGinnis (23) and Idalis Lee for a basket Monday at Perryman Athletic Complex.

Antwain Scales may have aged 30 years in the first 10 minutes of Monday night's postseason opener verses Cloud County. But after an agonizing first quarter, the Broncbusters wiped the Thunderbirds off the map, completing one of the most incredible in-game turnarounds in recent memory.

Donetria McGee scored 16 points, Justis Odom returned from a two-game absence to grab a game-high 11 rebounds, and Garden City Community College rallied back from a 14-point deficit to beat Cloud County, 63-43, in the first round of the Region VI Tournament at Conestoga Arena. With the win, the Broncbusters advanced to play Butler in the quarterfinals on Wednesday night.

"We came out way too complacent," Scales said afterwards. "Our players didn't realize that this was championship basketball. You must be at your best, and we didn't get off to a great start. But I'm really proud of the way that we finished."

Scales will want to burn the film from the first quarter because it may have been the worst shooting performance of the season. Garden City bricked 19 of its first 20 shots, reminiscent of the first meeting when they misfired on 22 of their first 24. They were down 18-5 after one and 28-14 after Idalis Lee canned an open jumper with 3:18 remaining in the second.

That's when Scales' bunch flipped the script.

Odom sank two free throws, McGee worked her way to the rim before swishing two freebies, and Garden City used a 9-2 run to close the period. They were down 30-23 going into the locker room.

"I told them we had to fight and get into our game plan," Scales mentioned. "We really got away from the way we normally play basketball in the first half. In the second half, we were able to get good shots and good opportunities to be successful."

The Broncbusters went for the kill in the third. Kealani Neves scored eight of her 11 points in the period knocking down four free throws and finishing off two layups in traffic, helping Garden City grab their first lead of the night, 32-30 with 7: 12 remaining. McGee followed with a pair of layups, Elisabeth Matas-Martin nailed a 3-pointer, Aerihna Afoa got loose for a finger roll and a trey, and McGee dropped in two free throws, putting the finishing touches on a quarter in which Garden City outscored Cloud County 25-5 while limiting the Thunderbirds to just 2-of-10 shooting over that 10-minute stretch. The brown and gold was up 13 going to the fourth.

"Defensively, we did a great job in the second half, especially on (Le'Yanna) McGinnis," Scales explained. "She's a tough player and is going to get her buckets. "But were able to collapse down and get the job done."

When Matas-Martin nailed a 3 with 1:24 to play, Garden City had completed a 36-point swing, erasing a 14-point deficit, and replacing it with a 63-41 lead. They shot 14-of-27 over the final 20 minutes out outscored the road team 40-13. Cloud County was just 5-of-20 from the floor over the final two quarters.

"Justis played great defense in the second half," Scales said. "She missed some assignments in the first half, but she really made up for it when we came back out."

Odom held McGinnis, Cloud County's leading scorer, to just four points in the second half. Additionally, the Broncbusters turned 19 Thunderbird turnovers into 14 points, and they also abused Cloud County inside, outscoring the road team 28-16 in the paint.

Afoa scored 12 points for Garden City in 35 minutes while Matas-Martin chipped in nine off the bench. Odom tallied eight points, and Taylor Lawhorne had six, five rebounds and one block.

Garden City traveled to El Dorado on Wednesday to face Butler.