Senior Night, Homecoming celebrated
After two earlier season losses to highly-regarded Hays High, once at the Indians’ for Western Athletic Conference action, and once in the semifinals of the Colby Orange and Black tournament in late January, coach Jacy Holloway and the Garden City Buffaloes’ boys’ basketball team was looking for the “third time’s the charm” motto to come into play.
But Friday night’s was not a charmed night for the Buffs as they dropped their third battle with the Indians, once again by a wide margin, this time 76-44, at The Garden to spoil Senior Night and Winter Homecoming festivities.
After getting burned by the Indians’ big men in the two earlier losses, Holloway and his staff game-planned to deny the inside game and force the Indians to shoot from the outside.
Hays’ two bigs – 6-6 senior Dalyn Schwarz and 6-5 junior Jace Linenberger – did enough work inside with 10 and 17 points, respectively, but the problem for the Buffs’ defense was that Hays’ perimeter players went ballistic, hitting 12 3-point baskets as 7 different Indians’ fired in baskets from long-range.
“They certainly didn’t take us lightly as they might have done some other teams recently,” Holloway said in the aftermath. “We had some issues with how we tried to attack their defense, and the turnovers (15+) allowed them to eventually get some easy baskets. It wasn’t because of our half-court defense. A lot of their 3’s were pretty well guarded – they just knocked ‘em down.”
The loss snapped a 4-game Buffs’ losing streak and snuffed out a streak of having won 8 of their previous 10 games to see their season record fall to 9-6. The loss dropped their WAC record to 3-4. Hays, meanwhile, the No. 1-ranked team in Class 5A, remained undefeated and is now 18-0 (6-0 in WAC) with just two regular season games remaining – at Dodge City next Tuesday and home against Great Bend on Thursday. Their win clinched no worse than a tie for the WAC title after they shared the top spot a year ago with Great Bend.
The Buffs had stayed within range in the first half, despite trailing by a dozen points early in the second period and hung around to trail at intermission by 10, 32-22.
“We really tried to concentrate on taking away the inside game, but part of what happened was us being ineffective in getting into our offense and attacking them,” Holloway said. “That leads to a lot of tough situations.”
The Buffs, while trailing by as many as 12 less than two minutes into the second quarter, they hung around and stayed within shouting range, twice trailing by only six (24-18 and 26-20) before Hays closed out the half with a 6-2 mini-run to take a 10-point lead (32-22) at intermission.
But when the teams resumed play in the third quarter, Hays put an end to any potential upset bid by the Buffs when they went on a 16-4 run to go up 48-26 with just more than two minutes left in the period. It was 52-31 at the end of the third, and the lead grew in the final eight minutes. The game ended on an 11-3 Hays run.
In the opening quarter, the Buffs had battled to a 10-all standoff through five minutes, before they hit a drought while the Indians erupted for 8 points, most coming from two dagger 3-pointers by TJ Nunnery.
That end to the first quarter also set the wheels in motion for the second quarter as Hays scored four quick points to go up 22-10, which would be the Indians’ biggest advantage of the half. The Buffs, though, didn’t shrink away as they went on an 8-2 mini-run to cut it to 24-18. The Indians then ended the first half on their own mini-streak of 8-4 to take a 32-22 lead into the dressing room at intermission.
The sharp-shooting Indians were red-hot from long-range distance as they knocked down 6 treys with Nunnery and Carson Kiefer getting two each while Wesley Oakley and Jason Krannawitter each had one.
Jace Linenberger topped the Indians halftime scoring with 7 points while Tae Rosales had 6 for the Buffs on two 3-pointers in the first quarter before getting whistled for his second foul at the 2:55 mark. When he left the floor, the teams were tied at 10-all.
Rosales was the lone double-figure scorer for the Buffs, finishing with 14 points which included four 3-pointers. For Hays, four players reached double-digits and nine players scored. Linenberger led the way with 17 points, followed by Nunnery with 16 (3 3-pointers), while Kieffer and Schwarz each contributed 10.
The 19 turnovers by the Buffs led to 24 points by the Indians, who finished the night hitting 53 percent from the field including 12-of-23 from behind the arc. Garden, meanwhile, chilled at 35 percent shooting. Hays hit the offensive boards, too, grabbing 10 of their own missed shots.
Next up for the Buffs will be their regular-season finale on Tuesday at Liberal. The Buffs won the earlier matchup at home, 71-54, and need a victory to give them the opportunity to be the No. 1 seed in the Class 6A sub-state that also includes Dodge City (10-6), Liberal (5-12) and Hutchinson (5-10). Dodge still has games against Maize South (9-8) at home tonight (Saturday) and then hosts Hays Tuesday night. The Demons led the first game against Hays for most of the three quarters plus, but lost at Hays, 44-38.
Senior Night: Three senior players were recognized at ceremonies between the girls and boys games. Isaac Flores, Chris Grant and Trey Nuzum were honored as were managers Rebecca Potts, Natalya Salinas and Elly Murrell. Homecoming queen and king were crowned at halftime of the boys’ game, with Ryan Wessels and Jasmine Flores, earning the royalty honors for the night.
HAYS HIGH (76) – Oakley 2 0-0 6, Krannawitter 1 0-0 3, Kieffer 4 0-0 10, Nunnery 6 1-2 16, Weimer 1 0-2 3, Linenberger 6 5-7 17, Dale 2 2-2 8, Schmidtberger 1 0-0 3, Schwarz 5 0-1 10. Totals 28 8-14 76.
GARDEN CITY (44) – Flores 1 5-6 8, Tolbert 1 0-0 2, Grant 0 2-2 2, Springston 0 2-2 2, Steinmetz 1 0-0 3, Rosales 5 0-0 14, Wiese 3 2-2 8, Nuzum 2 1-1 5. Totals 13 12-13 44.
Hays (18-0/6-0) 18 14 20 24 — 76
Garden City (9-6/3-4) 10 12 9 13 — 44
3-point goals: Hays 12 (Oakley 2, Krannawitter 1, Kieffer 2, Nunnery 3, Weimer 1, Dale 2, Schmidtberger 1), Garden City 6 (Flores 1, Steinmetz 1, Rosales 4). Fouls: Hays 11, Garden City 10. Fouled out: None.