By Mike Pilosof
Arkansas City, KS-There's been a common theme in Garden City's three losses this season: slow starts. And once again on Saturday, the Broncbusters couldn't avoid it.
Kaitlyn Potter drilled six 3's and finished with a game-high 35 points, Brenda Silva added 23 points and 10 boards, and Cowley County pulled away for an 84-72 victory at W.S. Scott Auditorium. It was the Tigers 10th win over the Broncbusters in their last 13 meetings.
"I feel our girls quit when we fell behind early like that," Head Coach Charinee Mitchell said afterwards. "I meant they fought back, but we have to stop digging ourselves into a hole like that."
Cowley County (6-0, 3-0) was red hot to start the game, hitting 8-of-16 shots from the field in the first quarter while building a nine-point lead. That advantage swelled to 14 in the second before Mitchell's team finally made their move.
Talia Roberts buried two free throws and hit a 3-pointer to pull Garden City (3-3, 1-2) to within six, 26-20 with 7:30 left in the half. But Potter had the answer, hitting a triple and two driving layups that helped the Tigers close the half on a 15-7 run to take a 41-27 cushion into the intermission.
"It's a game-by-game process," Mitchell said. "We played well in spurts, but that has to be more consistent."
Cowley County looked like they would run away with things to start the second half following Potter's back-to-back treys that pushed their lead to 47-27 with 8:57 to go in the quarter. But Mitchell's team wouldn't go away, finishing the period on a 27-14 run to close to within nine going into the fourth. Then Jessica Carillo, who started her third straight game, hit a hook shot in the paint, and all of the sudden the Broncbusters were down seven, 63-56, 90 seconds into the final quarter.
"The way we played in the second half is how we have to start the game," Mitchell said. "
That surge was short lived. Silva swished two free throws and Sam Schwab completed a three-point play as the lead ballooned back to double digits. Only once over the final seven minutes did Garden City cut it under 10.
"It's all a process," Mitchell said. "And it has to start on the defensive end. "When that's going well, that leads to better offense, which is why we were able to come back in the second half. But we have to start the game like that."
Potter and Silva combined to go 20-of-42 from the field for Cowley County, who improved to 7-0 for the second straight season. As a team, the Tigers outrebounded Garden City 43-39 and grabbed 15 offensive boards.
Next up: Garden City vs. Allen County-Tuesday, Nov. 21-5:45 p.m. pregame; 6 p.m. tip on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app