Broncbuster men move to 6-0 with weekend wins

GCCC Sports Information Services
Garden City Community College's Josh Nwankwo, left, and Zac Taylor, right, apply defesive pressure to Friends University junior varsity's Ty'Ren Miller Oct. 5 at Perryman Athletic Complex.  GCCC picked up a pair of wins over the weekend to move to 6-0.

DODGE CITY - The Garden City Community College men’s basketball team ran its season record to 6-0 over the weekend, participating in the Dodge City Classic.  The Broncbusters defeated Labette County on Friday and Neosho County on Saturday.

Labette County (96-72)

Mohamed Diarra has done some serious work through five games for Garden City.

The nation's leading rebounder pulled down 23 more on Friday night and dropped in 19 points, Heru Bligen scored 21, and Garden City improved to 5-0 for the first time since 2017 with a 96-72 victory over Labette at the Student Activity Center. The Broncbusters, who are one of only four unbeatens left in the Jayhawk Conference, have beaten their five opponents by an average of 42 points. They are currently 11th in the nation in scoring at 103.6 per game.

The Broncbusters stayed unbeaten despite a cold night from downtown. Bill Morosco's bunch finished just 3-of-20 from beyond the arc, but they won the rebounding battle 54-36 and grabbed 15 offensive boards that turned into 14 points. Garden City also got 41 points from its bench and dished out 16 assists on 37 made baskets.

This was not the cleanest game of the Morosco era. That was evident by the season-high 27 turnovers caused by Labette's constant trapping, which had the Broncbusters down by as many as 11 following Pierce Thomas's layup that made it 27-16 with 11:17 to play in the first half. But Garden City stormed back, utilizing a 34-9 run, which was capped by Bligen's driving layup and Micah Octave's two free throws that completed a 27-point swing in just under eight minutes that gave the Broncbusters a 50-34 edge. Bligen added two more freebies; then ducked underneath the rim for a reverse kiss off the glass while the defense suffocated the Cardinals, limiting them to just one field goal over the final 3:40 to take a 54-36 lead into the locker room.

Garden City kept the pressure on in the second half. Freshmen point guard Tone Hunter connected from 17 feet out, Bligen followed with a midrange jumper, Diarra rattled the rim with a two-handed flush coming off Octave's offensive rebound before powering one down with the right, giving the Broncbusters their largest lead of the night, 92-66 with 3:36 to go.

Bligen ripped down nine rebounds, and Diarra dished out team-best five assists for Garden City. Hunter scored 14 points in 37 minutes, and Zac Taylor added 16 off the bench.

Bryson Dennis was the lone Cardinal in double figures with 17 points on 6-of-13 from the field. The rest of the team however combined to go 23-of-79 (29 percent) from the floor.

Labette Co.  38; 34; - 72

Garden City  56; 40; - 96

Neosho County (100-66)

And to think, Mohamed Diarra nearly didn't come back to Garden City this summer. Through six games, first-year GCCC Head Coach Bill Morosco is thankful he did.

The sophomore post recorded his fourth straight double-double with 24 points and 16 rebounds, Josh Nwankwo bounced pack to pour in 21 points on 5-of-11 from downtown, and Garden City improved to 6-0 with a 100-66 victory over Neosho Saturday afternoon at the Student Activity Center. It's the Broncbusters best start since 2011.

Garden City finished 11-of-29 from beyond the arc (38 percent), outrebounded the Panthers 50-36, and scored 27 points off 17 Neosho turnovers.

The Broncbusters got off to a quick start in this one. Marko Dosen got free for a layup, Heru Bligen canned two free throws, and Diarra forced his way to the basket for two, putting the finishing touches on a 14-6 run that had Garden City up, 24-13 with 11:43 to play in the first half. They stretched that to 19 on Diarra's emphatic and-1 slam, which was followed by June Lewis's deep 3-pointer that made it 45-24. The Broncbusters were up 14 going into the locker room.

The second half was a mere formality.

Garden City outscored the Panthers 51-31 over the final 20 minutes, connecting on 7-of-15 from deep. They built the lead to 30 on Bligen's layup halfway through period and were up by as many as 34 following Zac Taylor's 3-pointer from the wing.

Bligen scored 20 points and pulled down seven rebounds for Garden City, which eclipsed the century mark for the fourth time in their first six games. Hunter added 10 points four rebounds, and three assists, and Lewis had 10 in 22 minutes off the bench.

Micah Jones paced the Panthers with 20 points, Jerry Carraway chipped in 16, and Zaakir Sawyer had 10.

Garden City  49; 51; - 100

Neosho Co.  35; 31; - 66

Garden City will begin the conference schedule on Wednesday, traveling to Great Bend to face Barton County.  Tipoff is set for approximately 7:30 p.m.