Great Bend, KS-With a 26-game conference schedule, it's hard for Garden City Coach Brady Trenkle to get too high or too low.
But there were definitely some disturbing trends following Wednesday's loss at Barton County.
Ezekiel Charles scored a game-high 22 points, Malik Toppin added 20, 11 boards and a career-high five blocks, and the Cougars hammered the Broncbusters 92-70 at the Kirkman Center.
"Some of our guys reverted back to their old ways," Trenkle said afterwards. "We had a real problem with our attitude tonight."
And nothing epitomized that more than a sequence late in the second half.
Trailing by 12 with 7:37 to go, Broncbuster guard Josh Fleming tried to follow his own miss. But as he grabbed it, he stepped on the baseline. Seconds later, the sophomore flung the ball towards official Matt Vogel, earning himself a technical foul. After a discussion, Fleming was ejected.
"That changed the game," Trenkle said. "I don't know what happened; we'll watch the video. But that took all of our momentum away."
Boy did it.
Malik Rhodes sank the two technical free throws, Charles followed with a 3-pointer, and Keeshawn Palmer converted a three-point play to stretch the lead to 81-61 with 6:10 to play.
"If we play like this, we won't win another game," Trenkle said. "But a game like this allows us to get better."
While Garden City (5-1, 1-1) shot a season-worst 34 percent from the floor, Barton County (6-0, 2-0) couldn't miss, connecting on 19-of-32 shots in the second half and finishing the night with their second best shooting performance of the season (56 percent).
"They shot the ball extremely well tonight," Trenkle said. "I've said it before: (Craig) Fletchall is a really good coach. And we couldn't stop their on-ball screens. We had a real problem with that."
That pick-and-roll action resulted in two lob dunks to Toppin, including an emphatic slam with 3:25 left that put the Cougars up 89-66.
"We made things way too easy for them tonight," Trenkle added.
Toppin made his presence known from the start, swatting three Garden City shots in the first five minutes of the game.
"We knew going in that Toppin was a shot blocker," Trenkle said.
Toppin totally altered the Broncbusters approach, and Garden City misfired on seven of their first eight shots.
Meantime Barton County jumped out of the gates quickly, storming out to a 6-0 lead following three straight Garden City turnovers to begin the game. The Cougars pushed the lead to as many as eight in the first half before a late 7-0 spurt put the Broncbusters in front 35-34 following two free throws by Jefkins-Agyeman-Budu with 1:28 to play.
It lasted all of 24 seconds.
Devonte Barker drilled a 3-pointer for Barton County, and following Anei Anei's tip back that knotted the score at 37, Barker hit a driving layup that gave the Cougars a 39-37 halftime edge.
Rhodes finished the night with 19 points for Barton County, who improved to 6-0 for the first time since 2010. Barker, Charles Norman and Palmer added eight points apiece.