By Mike Pilosof
Listen to the complete game in our archives section
Dodge City, KS-When Harris Brown was a junior at Howe High School in Indianapolis, he finished as runner up for city player of the year. The guy he lost out to was someone named Trey Lyles. The same Trey Lyles who led Kentucky to a Final Four appearance in 2015. It was also the same guy who was selected 12th overall in the 2015 NBA Draft by the Utah Jazz.
On Saturday afternoon, Brown played like he was still chasing Lyle's ghost.
The sophomore, who transferred from Evansville, scored 16 of his 27 points in the first half, Josh Boutte recorded his sixth straight double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds, and Dodge City completed the season sweep of Garden City with a 73-68 victory at the Student Activity Center.
"The game could have gone either way," Broncbusters Coach Brady Trenkle said. "We just weren't very smart in crunch time. I don't know what my guys were doing down the stretch."
What Trenkle was eluding to was his team turning it over five times in the final three minutes. None of those proved to be as costly as two giveaways in the final 60 seconds.
After Trevon Evans drained a 3-pointer from the left wing to give Dodge City (16-7, 13-6) a 71-68 lead with 1:08 remaining, Garden City (15-8, 11-8) had the ball back. But Josh Fleming's pass to Naradian James in the right corner skipped out of bounds, giving the ball back to the Conquistadors.
"It's hard to say what happened there," Trenkle said. "It was just bad, fundamental basketball when we needed to execute."
The Broncbusters had another chance to tie it following Nick Noskowiak's missed trey attempt from the right wing. As Garden City came back down the floor, the normally sure-handed Ben Howze threw an errant pass from the top of the key that was intercepted by Evans. But that was not the end of the world because there was still time left; still time to kill the clock and force Dodge City to hit free throws.
"I don't know what they were doing," Trenkle admitted. "I don't know if anyone checked the clock."
What happened next was somewhat perplexing. Garden City let 20 seconds run off the clock before they finally fouled Brown with 3.6 ticks left. The sophomore sank two free throws icing Dodge City's eighth win of the season in their new building.
"We should have won this game," Trenkle said. "It was right there for us. We have to figure out how to be consistent. It's like Dr. Jekyll one night and Mr. Hyde the other. That's frustrating. But it's just one game."
In the grand scheme of things, Trenkle was absolutely correct. But Dodge City not only grabbed their second victory over Garden City this season, they snatched the postseason tiebreaker from them as well.
In Trenkle's defense, he was playing without Victor Dukes for the second straight game because of an ankle injury. The numbers on the glass reflected that as Dodge City outrebounded Garden City 37-33 and grabbed 13 offensive boards.
"We needed Victor today," Trenkle admitted. "But even without him, we still had a chance to win it."
Still, nothing could derail this game from turning into what everyone thought it would be: a battle of two heavyweights who threw one haymaker after the next.
Garden City jumped out to a 7-2 lead early thanks to Fleming's line-drive 3-pointer from the left wing. Dodge City then responded with nine straight points, the capper: a triple from Brown that gave the Conquistadors an 11-7 edge. Brown, who scored 10 points in the first 10 minutes of the game, eventually helped his squad build a nine-point cushion halfway through the first half.
"We battled back each time again," Trenkle said. "I never faulted my guys' effort; they played extremely hard. We just have to be smarter in certain situations."
The Broncbusters used a 13-3 run to get back in the game, and Howze's three-point play put them back on top 26-25 with 7:05 left in the half.
That lead did not last long following Boutte's dunk that ignited a 10-4 stretch that put the Conquistadors up five with 2:05 remaining in the opening period.
Dodge City would not score again the rest of the frame as Jefkins Agyeman-Budu found James for a slam on the left block before Ray returned the favor the next time down the floor to cut the deficit to one. Ray added a free throw that tied the game at 35 at the half.
Garden City had the momentum early in the second half, building up a five-point edge five minutes in following Fleming's 3-pointer and James putback. But as they did all afternoon, the Conquistadors fought back, pushing in front 51-50 on the heels of Dayton McGroarty's reverse layup. It was two of the freshman's nine second-half points.
"We let a guy that averages three points per game score nine on us," Trenkle said. "That can't happen."
McGroarty though saved his best for last.
James 3-pointer had just given Garden City a 66-65 lead with 2:10 to go. But the hometown kid answered, grabbing an offensive rebound off Brown's missed trey and sticking it back home plus the foul. He drained the freebie, and the Conquistadors never trailed again.
Fleming eventually tied the contest at 68 on a pullup jumper from the elbow, but the Broncbusters failed to score the final 1:27. In fact, Garden City attempted just one shot attempt over the final 2:00.
James scored 18 points and pulled down 11 rebounds for Garden City, who dropped their third straight game to Dodge City. Ray splashed home 16 and Fleming added 15.
Evans, who began his collegiate career two years ago at Pratt before transferring to Southwestern and then Dodge City, netted 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting.
Notes: There were 14 lead changes and 10 ties…Dodge City played without post players Trey Grundy, Dreon Lewis and Brandon Miller…Garden City shot 50 percent from the field in the second half (13-of-26); Dodge was just 14-of-39 (38 percent)
Next up: Garden City vs. Hutchinson-Wednesday, Feb. 8-8 p.m. tip on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and mobile app: KWKR