By Mike Pilosof
Garden City, KS-The writing was on the wall as soon as Charinee Mitchell took over the Broncbuster program back in May. A serious transition was in progress. If you don't believe it, check out one of the first-year coach's practices.
Wednesday night, Garden City showed tremendous promise, shutting down one of the best shooting teams in the country.
Jessica Carillo scored a team-best 16 points, the Broncbusters held the Cougars to a season-low 27 percent from the field, and Garden City snapped a two-game losing streak with a 71-51 victory at Conestoga Arena.
"That's the team I see in practice every day," Mitchell said after the game. "The tenacity, the drive, that's what we've been looking for."
Barton County's (4-2, 1-1) struggles against the Broncbuster defense was apparent from the jump, missing seven of their first eight shots as Garden City built a six-point first-quarter lead. In the second, Talia Roberts hit an elbow jumper and split two free throws, Carillo hit two from the stripe and converted a layup, fueling a 9-0 run that put Garden City up 16 with 4:50 to go in the half. They eventually stretched that to 19 when Abigail Green turned a Barton County turnover into a layup that made it 36-17.
"That's the defense that we preach," Mitchell said. "Now, it's just building off of games like this."
While the defense pressured Barton County all night, the offense enjoyed their best shooting game of the year, connecting on a season-best 41 percent from the field. They were 13-of-27 in the second half.
"Even if we can go up a tick in our shooting percentages, that's progress," Mitchell said. "And tonight, we did that."
The Cougars never really threatened, and even a 9-0 run midway through the fourth quarter, couldn't put a dent on Garden City's 22-point cushion. Roberts put to bed any doubts, ending a four-minute scoreless stretch during that span with a backbreaking 3-pointer that pushed the lead back to 16.
"This is only one game, but it's a step forward," Mitchell said. "Now it's onto the next one."
Jada Washington added 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting for Garden City, who improved to 3-0 at home this season. Green had 11, Roberts chipped in 11 off the bench, and the Broncbusters scored 24 points off of 18 Barton County turnovers.
Stapleton, the conference's third leading scorer, finished with 17 points for the Cougars, who have dropped three straight road games dating back to last season. Micaela Jellison and Irene Chukwudi added seven points apiece.
Next up: Garden City at Cowley-Saturday, Nov. 18-5:15 p.m. pregame; 5:30 p.m. tip on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app