Garden avenges loss to Dodge City, 58-54
Sometimes, the sweeter a victory is, the better it feels.
That might well describe the feeling of the Garden City High School Buffaloes’ boys’ basketball team Wednesday night when they left Dodge City High School’s Gymnasium with a dramatic 58-54 victory over the Red Demons.
It had been 15 days since the teams previously met at The Garden when the Demons pretty much manhandled the Buffs, 53-36. This one was much different – as in night and day different.
With it, the Buffs evened their Western Athletic Conference record at 3-3 with two games remaining, and was the second straight game in which they avenged earlier season losses – last Thursday to Great Bend. They are now 9-5 overall, having won 8 of their last 10 games after a 1-3 start in early January.
The Buffs get another chance at redemption with a quick turnaround Friday when they host unbeaten and No. 1-ranked Class 5A (17-0/5-0) Hays High for Homecoming festivities at The Garden. The boys game will tip-off at approximately 7:45 following the girls’ 6 p.m. game against the Lady Indians. Hays owns two of those losses suffered by the Buffs.
“It certainly felt like we took another step forward in the way we’re playing,” said Buffs’ head coach Jacy Holloway. “Going on the road against a team that beat us good at home is a great feeling. The boys were more mentally locked in as the game progressed.”
The Buffs took an 8-point advantage into the final quarter after the game had been tied at the end of the first period (14-14) and at halftime (26-26). That margin was created when Jace Steinmetz drilled a deep 3-pointer just before the buzzer sounded to end the third.
As one would expect in a rivalry game that also had postseason sub-state seeding implications, the Red Demons didn’t go away. They had narrowed the lead to 47-43 and 49-44 before the Buffs got a layup from Tae Rosales to make it 51-44 with 4:32 remaining in the game.
That, however, started the only scoring drought suffered during the 32-minute contest. Dodge took advantage of a pressing defense that forced several Buffs’ miscues, allowing the Demons to run off 8 straight points to go up 52-51 with 2:45 showing.
Then, it seemed as though a bit of lady luck, or just nerves beset the Demons down the stretch. They missed four free throws over the final two minutes while the Buffs ended their absent scoring with a huge 3-point bucket by Isaac Flores from the baseline to put the Buffs up 54-52 with 0:39 left.
Dodge’s Matt Friess made the second of two charity shots with 0:24 remaining to cut the lead to 54-53 but Flores then knocked down to critical free throws with 0:23 on the clock for a 56-53 edge. After a Dodge timeout, the Demons had to find a way to look for a potential tying 3-pointer and it was Cooper Loll who took the shot and got fouled by the Buffs with 0:02.5 showing.
That sent him to the charity stripe for a potential tying 3 free throw attempts. Needing all of them, Loll missed the first, made the second and then tried to intentionally miss the last one for a rebound, but crossed the free throw line for a violation that gave the ball to the Buffs.
On the inbounds pass, Caleb Wiese was fouled and then calmly swished two free throws with 0:01.7 ticks remaining to ice the game. At the buzzer, the celebration by the Buffs ensued at their bench. With COVID-19 restrictions, the teams left the floor for their respective locker rooms immediately after.
“Where we’re at now is where we (staff) thought we’d be at the beginning (of the season),” Holloway said. “It’s just taken some time to figure out our roles and everybody has bought in now and can see the results.”
If there was ever an example of a team effort from the stats sheet, this game would be it for the Buffs. Of the 10 players who saw action, all of them scored. Flores was the lone player to reach double figures, dropping in 15 on the Demons off of 5-of-8 shooting from the field (3-of-5 from behind the arc) and hitting the 2 free throws. He also contributed 4 assists and 3 rebounds as the Buffs owned a 26-19 edge on the boards.
Holloway had five other players score between 5 and 9 points to contribute to the winning cause and even the three players who tallied just a field goal as well as Luke Tolbert’s 3-pointer in the second quarter helped seal the win for the Buffs. Also, 9 of the 10 players grabbed a rebound, with Chris Grant leading with 4. The Buffs got 15 assists which contributed to their 20 field goals in 39 attempts (51.3 percent) and they were 7-of-16 from behind the 3-point line (43.8 percent) and cashed in 11-of-12 free throws (91.7 percent).
Dodge City, meanwhile, shot 42.5 percent from the field (17-of-40) and were 12-of-19 at the free throw line and just 8-of-21 from 3-point range (38.1 percent). In the earlier game two weeks prior, the Demons had hit 16-of-18 field goals from inside the arc. That was all changed in the rematch.
The Demons (9-6/3-2 in WAC) had two players in double figures, with Loll leading the way with 14 and Friess contributing 13, including 6-of-8 free throws. The only stat not favorable to the Buffs was turnovers where they committed 17 miscues to 9 for the Demons.
“The boys are doing more things to figure out what to do, and how to contribute to the team effort,” Holloway said. “All the things we’ve worked on from the start are beginning to show up. Everyone is figuring out their role and the results speak for themselves.”
GARDEN CITY (58) – Flores 5-8 2-2 15, Tolbert 1-1 0-0 3, Grant 2-6 2-2 6, Metzen 1-2 0-0 2, Springston 1-1 0-0 2, Steinmetz 1-3 0-0 2, Rosales 3-8 2-3 9, Wiese 2-3 2-2 6, Guevara 3-4 0-0 8, Nuzum 1-3 3-3 5. Totals 20-39 11-12 58.
DODGE CITY (54) – I. Taylor 1-1 0-0 3, Loll 5-10 2-4 14, Smith 2-6 2-2 8, Sowers 3-6 0-2 6, Scheck 2-6 0-0 6, D. Taylor 1-3 2-3 4, Friess 3-5 6-8 13, Cox 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 17-40 12-19 54.
Garden City (9-5/3-3) 14 12 18 14 — 58
Dodge City (9-6/3-2) 14 12 10 18 — 54
3-point goals: Garden City (7) Flores 3-5, Tolbert 1-1, Grant 0-1, Steinmetz 0-2, Rosales 1-5, Guevara 2-2; Dodge City (9) I. Taylor 1-1, Loll 2-4, Smith 2-2, Sowers 0-2, Scheck 2-6, D. Taylor 0-2, Friess 1-1, Cox 0-1. Rebounds: Garden City 26 (Grant 5), Dodge City 19 (Loll 7). Assists: Garden City 15 (Flores 4), Dodge City 13 (Friess 5). Fouls: Garden City 18, Dodge City 12. Fouled out: None.
|Western Athletic Conference|
|Basketball Standings (2020-21)|
|Through Games of Feb. 17|
|School||Won All||Lost All||WAC won||WAC lost|