By Mike Pilosof
Garden City, KS-Patrick Nee envisioned his team turning things around following their upset victory over No. 9 Hutchinson seven days ago. Instead, the Broncbusters have gone the other way.
On Wednesday, Garden City played without guard Russhard Cruickshank, who was serving a one-game suspension. Without him, the Broncbusters struggled to find consistency on offense.
Tyvon Taylor scored a game-high 22 points, Teddy Fifer added 14, and Pratt won their first road game since Dec. 9, 2017-beating the Broncbusters 66-64 at Conestoga Arena.
"We are just missing the big plays; the hustle plays," Nee said afterwards.
Despite being shorthanded, the Broncbusters had their fair share of chances to pull this one out.
Down by as many as seven in the second half, Nee's squad worked their way back in it. Jamir Thomas nailed a 3, hit two free throws; then swished a jumper in the lane, sparking a 9-2 run that had Garden City up two, 47-45 with 8:12 to go. It was one of six lead changes in the second half.
"We ran some new stuff tonight on offense, and I thought, for the most part, we ran it well," Nee said. "But we just haven't put a full game together."
The two-point cushion was Garden City's largest of the night. But it never stuck, and Jakobi Pearson's critical turnover that Taylor converted into a layup at the other end, put Pratt on top by four. He added a free throw, Fifer knocked down a 3, and the Beavers led 65-59 with 55 seconds to play.
"Right now, it's a toughness issue," Nee said. "I think we are trending in the right direction, but we just can't put it all together."
Garden City still had time, and Daishaun Woods splashed home a 3 from the left corner that sliced the deficit to three. On Pratt's next possession, Fifer was called for a travel with 17 seconds remaining, giving the ball back to the Broncbusters.
"We knew what we wanted to do on those last couple of possessions," Nee described.
The next time down the floor, Pearson deferred a game-tying 3, instead driving to the rim for an easy layup, making it a one-contest, 65-64 with eight seconds. After Taylor hit 1-of-2 free throws on the other end that stretched Pratt's lead to three, Pearson again had the ball in his hands with a chance to tie or win the game. But as he slashed from the right wing to the paint, his jump pass to the arc was intercepted by Martin Lakovic, who dribbled out the rest of the clock.
"I think Jakobi thought he was going to travel in the lane, so he tried to kick it out," Nee explained.
Jerome Bivins added 10 points for the Beavers, who snapped a 16-game road losing streak. Lakovic tallied eight points and two steals in 26 minutes off the bench.
Thomas scored 17 for Garden City, who dropped to 0-9 when trailing at the half this season. Pearson had 14, and Tony Hopkins totaled 13 on 6-of-7 shooting. It was the sixth time in the last seven games that he reached double figures.
Next up: Garden City at Dodge City-Saturday, Jan. 26-3 p.m. tip on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app