By Mike Pilosof
Coffeyville, KS-If you ask Brady Trenkle, he will tell you the last three weeks have been the hardest he's endured as a basketball coach.
"I've never lost going into the Christmas Break," Trenkle said. "Even worse was we gave up 93 points to Pratt."
That 93-92 defeat to the Beavers was definitely an eye opener. But following Wednesday night, Garden City made sure it was a distant memory.
Pierre Johnson continued his hot shooting, scoring 21 points on 6-of-12 from the field, Jamir Thomas and Kendale Hampton each netted 13, and the Broncbusters ended 18th-ranked Coffeyville's 13-game home-court winning streak with a 78-69 victory on Jay Herkelman Court. It was Garden City's first win in Coffeyville in more than 20 years.
"You're always scared how your team will respond the first game back," Trenkle said. "But we responded well. I could tell the way these guys practiced during the week."
Last year, Garden City built a double-digit, first-half advantage, only to watch Coffeyville come back and win the game. 12 months later in the same venue, the Broncbusters made certain that there was not a repeat performance.
Garden City looked sharp early, getting a 3-pointer from Logan Miller on their very first possession of the night. The freshman made his first start of the season.
"That was big for Logan (Miller) to hit that shot early on," Trenkle said. "He played well."
After the teams exchanged baskets, Garden City (10-4, 6-4) went on a 3-point assault, hitting 6-of-13 from beyond the arc in the first half. Hampton had two of those, including one from the right wing that gave the Broncbusters a 30-17 edge with 7:30 to play until halftime. They eventually stretched that to as many as 14.
"In their house, we knew Coffeyville would make a run," Trenkle said. "The only thing that mattered was how we responded."
The Red Ravens did in fact crawl their way back into the game. After connecting on only one field goal during an eight-minute stretch in the first half, Coffeyville (11-3, 7-3) couldn't miss the rest of the way. Travis Washington sliced to the rim for a three-point play, and Malik Keith buried a deep 2-pointer from the top of the key before nailing a trey from the left wing that cut the 14-point deficit down to three, 39-36 at the half. The Red Ravens outscored Garden City 17-7 over the final 6:30 of the period.
"We did a nice job of starting the second half off strong," Trenkle added.
Russhard Cruickshank, who hit three, first-half 3-pointers, began the second period with a triple to extend the Broncbusters' lead to a 42-36 50 seconds in. But Coffeyville never blinked, using a 13-6 run, capped by Casey Benton's contested 3-pointer that gave the Red Ravens a 49-48 advantage. That was the last time Garden City trailed.
Jeff Otchere swung the tied, tipping in a Broncbuster miss, then swatting Cedric Roland's layup, which led to Cruickshank's uncontested layup at the other end. The freshman post added two thunderous dunks in the second half, while Johnson finished off his dazzling night, scoring 11 of his game-high 21 in the second half; this despite not starting the game.
"We changed things up a little big tonight," Trenkle said. "We just wanted to see how different things would look."
The only real drama came with less than a minute to play when Cruickshank was ejected after he was whistled for his second technical foul.
"I don't know what he did, but that's unfortunate," Trenkle said. "
If it stands, Cruickshank would be suspended for Saturday's game vs. Neosho.
"We'll see what happens."
Garden City dominated the glass, becoming just the third team this season to outrebound the Red Ravens 46-29. The Broncbusters added 24 points off of 13 offensive rebounds and outscored Coffeyville's bench 31-14. Cruickshank finished with 11 points and a team-best five assists.
Washington suffered his worst shooting night of the season for Coffeyville, misfiring on 9 of his 11 shots from the field. He finished with 16 points, thanks to an 11-of-13 night at the line. Benton added 15 on 5-of-10 shooting.
Next up: Garden City at Coffeyville-Saturday, Jan. 6-4 p.m. tip on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app