By Mike Pilosof
Garden City, KS-During his entire coaching career, Brady Trenkle had never lost five straight games.
Then came a Saturday night at home in February, in a game where it appeared Garden City had the upper hand-leading for the most of the first half. But appearances can be deceiving, especially when the opposing team shoots lights out.
In the end, it was the perfect storm, an avalanche of sorts that had the Broncbusters retreating in the second half.
Travis Washington scored a game-high 21 points, Greg Poleon added 17, and Coffeyville flipped the scrip, turning a nine-point, first-half deficit into an 81-69 win at the Perryman Athletic Complex.
"I'll say it again, we forgot how to win," Trenkle said afterwards. "And we can't hit shots. Coffeyville hit shots. If you don't make shots in this league, you're not going to win."
The funny thing was, Coffeyville (17-10, 13-10) could not make anything in the early going. The Red Ravens missed 15 of their first 19 shots from the floor allowing Garden City (15-12, 11-12) to build a nine-point cushion.
"Give Coffeyville credit," Trenkle said. "They struggled early but hit shots when they needed to."
Back-to-back layups by Victor Dukes put the Broncbusters in front 22-13 with 8:06 left in the first half. But moments before the transfer from Blin gave Garden City their largest lead, a sense of déjà vu settled in.
In their first meeting with the Red Ravens back in January, Garden City raced out to a 17-4 lead only to have Ben Howze twist his back. Howze left the game and the Red Ravens came back and won. One month later, the same scenario played out again, only this time it was Josh Fleming rolling his ankle halfway through the first half.
"That's basketball," Trenkle said. "It happens, and you have to move forward."
Fleming returned, but Garden City looked like a different squad once their leading scorer went down. Coffeyville smelled blood, and a 17-8 run ensued as the Red Ravens tied the game at 30 on Jordan Taylor's bucket with 1:25 to go in the first half.
Only Howze's tap back following Fleming's missed 3-pointer, ensured Garden City had the lead going into the break 32-30. But all the momentum had shifted, and it was only a matter of time before things boiled over.
"Right now, we can't figure it out," Trenkle said. "We were 15-7 and now we're 15-12. It's hard to swallow."
The numbers were even harder to stomach in the second half.
Coffeyville shot 60 percent (18-of-30) in the second half. In fact, after their 5-of-19 start, they finished the game 25-of-43 (58 percent).
"They couldn't miss," Trenkle said. "That's hard to beat."
Malik Keith's bouncing 3-pointer tied the game at 38. Washington's bucket 30 seconds later gave the Red Ravens the lead for good. It was part of an 11-0 run that put Coffeyville up 46-38 with 14:37 to play.
Garden City kept it close for most of the second half. Jamar Gilbert's 3-pointer pulled them to within three with 11:10 remaining.
"We just couldn't stop them in the second half," Trenkle said. "I thought we were a lock to be hosting in the region tournament. But who would have thought we would have lost three straight at home."
Trenkle could only watch as Washington put the finishing touches on Coffeyville's comeback.
With the shot clock ticking down, the freshman from Tulsa, OK moved left around a Poleon pick. He elevated and splashed home a 3-pointer from the top of the key, giving the Red Ravens a 12-point lead. The next time down the floor it was Keith, sealing Garden City's fate with a coldblooded trey from the right corner, giving Coffeyville their seventh win over the Broncbusters in their last eight meetings.
"We have to start getting things from other guys," Trenkle said. "We need more from Aaron Ray. Aaron is playing his tale off, but he was 0-for-4 from the field. The guy can't buy a break."
Howze scored 19 points and pulled down 13 rebounds for Garden City, who suffered their first five-game losing streak since 2014. Naradain James had 12 and Gilbert added 11.
Tedrick Wolfe, whose powerful slam in transition capped the Red Ravens 11-0 spurt in the second half, netted 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting. Keith and Taylor scored 10 points apiece.
Next up: Garden City vs. Neosho-Wednesday, Feb. 22-8 p.m. tip on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app