GCCC suffers first loss of season in double overtime

GCCC Sports Information Services
Garden City Community College's Heru Bligen, center, drives the lane for a basket through the Coffeyville defense Saturday at Perryman Athletic Complex.  The Broncbusters dropped the heartbreaking contest to the Red Ravens, 104-106, in double overtime.

Broncbusters now 7-1 overall

It wouldn't be hyperbole to label Saturday night's double-overtime thriller an instant classic. Unfortunately for Bill Morosco's bunch, the ending wasn't quite what they envisioned.

Dayshawn Wiley scored a season-high 30 points, Love Bettis finished 10-of-10 at the line, and defending National Champion Coffeyville escaped with a 106-104 victory at Conestoga Arena. It was the Garden City Community College’s first loss of the season, putting an end to their best start in 16 years.

And man, did Garden City let one get away.

Following Marko Dosen's 3-pointer and Tone Hunter's beautiful wraparound layup, Garden City had their biggest lead of the night, 70-57 with 11:34 remaining in the second half. It was a complete 180 from the first 20 minutes where the home team had to crawl back from a 12-point deficit thanks to a 23-point swing. The Broncbusters were rolling, and the crowd could sense the moment.

The Red Ravens though had other ideas.

Coffeyville stormed back, utilizing a 19-4 run capped by Jules Bikoy's 3-pointer, and Wiley's driving layup that gave the visitors their first lead since the 18:22 mark of the second half. They were up 82-79 with 55 seconds remaining.

But Morosco's team didn't get off to a 7-0 start because of luck. Their scheme works because of ball movement and player movement, and with less than a minute to go, staring at a possible early-season blemish, Dosen peeled off a beautiful flare screen and canned a 3-pointer from the left wing. It was a little improvisation from the Canadian, who with one flick of the wrist tied the game at 82. Garden City even had a chance to win the game in regulation after Riny Lual intercepted Bikoy's bounce pass. But Hunter's 26-footer clanged off the back rim sending the game into overtime.

More anxiety awaited.

Hunter gave the home crowd a bit of a reprieve when he swished a 3-pointer 13 seconds into the extra session. But Bettis quickly answered with a layup, and Wiley drained two free throws to put the Red Ravens back up by one. It was one of five lead changes in the first overtime.

"We have to find a way to win that game," Morosco said.

Josh Nwankwo's layup with 1:46 to go put Garden City up, 92-91. But moments later, Heru Bligen fouled Deng Mayar, who swished a pair of free throws to put the Red Ravens ahead by one. Lual had a chance to give the Broncbusters the lead on the other end but hit only 1-of-2 at the line to knot the game at 93. Then, with the game hanging in the balance, Lual redeemed himself by blocking Mayar's layup. Dosen then punched the ball away from Wiley giving Garden City another crack to win the game. But Hunter, who absorbed plenty of contact on his foray to the rim, missed a layup at the buzzer.

Garden City had their chances again in the second overtime. Bligen's layup with 1:57 to go, put the Broncbusters up, 100-98. But after Morosco called a timeout, Nathan Johnson promptly answered with a corner 3, Bettis swished two free throws, and Coffeyville led, 103-100 with 1:02 remaining.

But if you watched the Jayhawk Conference long enough, any clash of this magnitude is never free of controversy. And with the Broncbusters trailing by one with six seconds left, Micah Octave appeared to cleanly rip the ball free out of Wiley's hands in the backcourt while the freshman guard stumbled to the ground. But to the disbelief of Morosco, referee, Dwight Nicholson called a foul. Wiley hit 1-of-2 free throws on the other end, and Hunter just missed a half-court heave that would have won the game.

Coffeyville shot 16 of their 37 free throws in the two overtimes, finishing the night 28-of-37.

Nwankwo poured in 24 points and pulled down 10 rebounds for Garden City, which lost the game despite forcing 21 turnovers that led to 27 points. Hunter added 23 but was just 8-of-27 from the floor in a season-high 49 minutes. Bligen scored 21.

Bettis tallied 20 for the Red Ravens, which improved to 2-0 in league play and saved face after building an early 19-7 lead six minutes into the contest. Mayar chipped in 17, and Bikoy scored 15 in 24 minutes off the bench.

Coffeyville  45; 37; 11; 13; - 106

Garden City  43; 39; 11; 11; - 104

The Broncbusters will be back in action at 4 p.m. on Saturday at Independence.