By Mike Pilosof
Garden City, KS-When Garden City arrived back on campus at 3 a.m. Sunday following an overtime loss to Cowley County, Brady Trenkle had his guys right back in the gym shooting free throws. And rightfully so after his squad missed 18 of them against the Tigers.
"These guys knew what they had to do," Trenkle said. "We gave that game away."
Fast forward 72 hours, and the Broncbusters work during the early-morning hours paid off.
Jamir Thomas scored a season-best 23 points, his team combined to go 11-of-15 at the line, and Garden City snapped a two-game losing streak with a 94-75 victory over Allen County Tuesday night at Conestoga Arena.
"I'm really proud of how they bounced back; this is what we've been looking for," Trenkle said. "It's a process, and these guys have to understand the type of competition they're playing in this league."
Garden City set a new season-high, shooting 55 percent from the floor on 37-of-67 while dominating the smaller Red Devils inside-outscoring them 52-18 in the paint. They also killed them from deep, draining 9-of-20 3-pointers, their third highest total of the season.
While Hampton scored only four points in 18 minutes off the bench, Cruickshank continued his hot shooting, scoring 15 points on 4-of-8 from long range. He's now 19-of-35 (54 percent) from downtown over his last four games.
"He's (Cruickshank) the best point guard I've coached in 18 years," Trenkle said. "I knew that as soon as he signed."
Holloway was also on point, hitting four treys while scoring a season high 19 points; 11 of those came in the first half, which included a powerful baseline jam that fueled a 6-0 run that gave Garden City a 27-10 advantage with 9:12 left in the opening period.
"We did a good job of cutting these guys' minutes in this game," Trenkle said. "I mean Russhard played 44 minutes the other night, so we had to make a conscious effort to get guys some rest."
Cruickshank and Holloway each played 29 minutes, while no one played more than 30. It was part of a masterful plan that produced Garden City's (6-2, 2-2) most efficient game of the season.
"The one thing I know about this team is that they won't accept losing," Trenkle said.
The Broncbusters led the entire way, building a 21-point lead following Cruickshank's 3-pointer with 7:36 remaining in the first half. Allen County did fight back, scoring 10 straight points to cut it to 11. Garden City was up 12 at the break.
"Allen County has talented players," Trenkle said. "They were hurt tonight because they didn't have one of their best players, but they still have scorers."
The Red Devils were without sophomore returner Ahmad Winston, but Perry Carroll, who was the eighth all-time leading scorer at Ottawa High School, along with Tevin Townsend, who won three national championships with the Oklahoma City Storm in high school, more than carried the load for sixth-year Head Coach Andy Shaw.
Carroll scored 15 of his team-best 23 points in the second half while Townsend netted a season-high 20 points on 5-of-7 shooting in the losing effort.
"There are no easy games in this league," Trenkle said. "And that was proven again tonight because even when we got up big, the basket got bigger for them, and they started hitting shots."
Elvis Harvey put a jolt into the Broncbusters offense early in the second half with back-to-back jams, pushing the lead back to 22. But as they did in the first half, the Red Devils did not quit, and Carroll and Townsend hit consecutive 3's to spark an 8-0 run that cut the Garden City lead to 55-41 with 15:20 left. That was as close as Allen County (2-6, 0-4) got the rest of the way.
The Broncbusters scorched the nets over the final 20 minutes, knocking down 20 of their 30 shots from the field while hitting 4-of-7 from deep. It was a shooting clinic that saw four of the five Broncbuster starters reach double figures.
"This team will be good at some point once they figure everything out," Trenkle said. "It was really good to see Jamir and Jeff (Otchere) stay on the floor tonight and not foul. I told Jamir that when he fouls out, those are on him. He needs to learn how to play without fouling. Both of them did a much better job tonight."
The Broncbusters beat Allen County for the fifth time in their last six meetings, and handed the Red Devils their eight consecutive conference loss dating back to last season.
Next up: Garden City at Independence-Saturday, Nov. 25-6 p.m. tip on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app