By Mike Pilosof
Coffeyville, KS-It's a scary proposition to think what it would look like if Garden City put a complete game together.
For five minutes on Wednesday night, the Broncbusters looked unbeatable. Unfortunately, the final 35 did not play out the same away.
Jordan Taylor drilled four 3-pointers and scored a season-high 19 points, Travis Washington added 17 points and seven rebounds, and Coffeyville stormed back from 13 down to beat Garden City 89-84 at Red Ravens Fieldhouse.
"My guys played so hard," Garden City Coach Brady Trenkle said. "That's one thing I told them in the locker room: if you left it all out on the floor, there is nothing to be ashamed of. Coffeyville is a good team."
You could argue that the Red Ravens are borderline great, especially how they withstood a furious rush by Garden City (10-4, 6-4) to begin the game.
Victor Dukes put the Broncbusters up 5-0 with a layup and a 3-pointer, Aaron Ray hit two triples and completed a three-point play, and Garden City had a 17-4 edge at the 15:30 mark of the first half. That's when everything changed.
With a chance to extend to a 15-point lead, Broncbuster post Ben Howze tried to split two defenders. As he did so, he landed awkwardly on his back. The sophomore then hobbled his way to the locker room.
"Ben played hurt tonight," Trenkle explained. There is no doubt about that."
That event seemed to take the life out of the Broncbuster cause. Coffeyville (11-3, 7-3) took full advantage.
The Red Ravens responded with a 23-5 run and never looked back, eventually building their lead to as many as eight in the first half. They led by five at the break.
"We took some possessions off tonight," Trenkle said. "Our guys know that. It's unfortunate, but you can't do that on the road."
Coffeyville's swarming three-quarters court press forced Garden City into 18 turnovers, and it changed the complexity of the game.
"When you turn it over that many times, you're not going to win," Trenkle added."
But as the game appeared to be getting away from them, Garden City still had a chance to take the lead in the final six minutes.
After falling down 68-61, Jamar Gilbert answered with a deep 3-pointer and Ben Howze completed a three-point play to pull the Broncbusters to within two. But Naradin James missed a game-tying jumper from the free throw line with 6:22 to play; Josh Fleming's go-ahead trey rimmed out with 5:20 to go before a critical turnover sealed Garden City's fate with 4:30 left.
"We had our chances to go in front," Trenkle said. "We just never took advantage of them."
The Red Ravens quickly stretched the lead to nine when Greg Poleon grabbed an offensive rebound and laid the ball back in softly off the glass for an 80-71 advantage with just over two minutes remaining.
"Coffeyville should be 13-0," Trenkle said. "They might be the best team in our league. They have one of the best coaches of all time. Heck, the court is named after him."
That coach Jay Herkleman watched his team go from uninspired to unstoppable, all within a five-minute stretch. And when it was all said and done, the Red Ravens won their third straight contest.
Malik Keith sparked Coffeyville off the bench with 10 points and eight boards. Poleon added nine points and five rebounds, and little used Jordan Newby hit two monster triples during that 23-4 stretch in the first half. He netted seven.
Dukes scored 17 for Garden City, who saw their two-game winning streak come to an end. Ray fouled out with 14; Fleming added 13 and Howze had 10. James chipped in nine points and 10 boards.
"I'm telling you that this team will be there come March," Trenkle said. "We have one of the most talented teams in the conference. We just have to put everything together."
Next up: Garden City at Neosho County-Saturday, January 7-4 p.m. tip on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and mobile app: KWKR