By Mike Pilosof
Photo by Adam Shrimplin
Independence, KS-It wasn't the way the season was supposed to go.
The Broncbusters, who manhandled Hutchinson just two weeks ago and knocked off Barton at home, couldn't overcome a late-first-half run by Independence, and watched their season fizzle out at the same time.
The Pirates erased nine-point deficit by outscoring Garden City 25-3 over the final 10:25 of the first half, Jibril Harris poured in 20, and Independence beat the Broncbusters 71-66 Wednesday night in the first round of the Region VI Tournament at ICC Field House. With the win, the Pirates advanced to play Seward County in the quarterfinals on Sunday.
Independence opened up a 15-point lead in the second half before the Broncbusters finally made a push. R.J. Pair hit a couple of layups and a step-back 3-pointer, and Garden City was within four with less than two minutes to go. But with a chance to make it a one-point contest in the final minute, Pair bricked a 3 from the top of the key. Tyreece Berry answered with four big free throws on the other end for Independence, and the Pirates finished off Garden City.
Kori Guest scored 11 points in 22 minutes off the bench for Independence.
In his final game in a Garden City uniform, Jamir Thomas tallied 11 points, two rebounds, three assists, one steal and two blocks. Russhard Cruickshank had 20 points on 6-of-13 shooting, and Pair finished with 21 points in 34 minutes.
The Broncbusters close the season at 13-18.