By Mike Pilosof
Colby, KS-If you glanced at the conference standings in December, there were plenty of teams that Garden City was looking up at.
Oh how things have changed over the course of a few weeks.
Jada Washington scored a season high 21 points, Shakendra Tilley totaled 15 points and 11 rebounds, and the Broncbusters raced past Colby 84-58 Wednesday night at the Community Building. It was Garden City's fifth straight win, the third longest streak in the conference, and it moved them within three games of first place in the Jayhawk.
"We still aren't satisfied," Head Coach Charinee Mitchell said. "We were way too sloppy with the ball."
The Broncbusters won the game despite turning it over 23 times, 5 of those in an up-and-down first quarter.
"We can't play like that against better teams," Mitchell said. "You can't be loose with the ball and expect to win games."
Those turnovers kept Colby (4-12, 2-10) in it in the opening frame. And after Garden City (10-6, 7-5) built an 11-4 edge four minutes into the contest, the Trojans found the range. Bailey Bixenman hit back-to-back 3-pointers and Jordan Dixon converted a layup to put Colby up one. It was one of four lead changes in the first 10 minutes. That advantage swelled to four when Bixenman hit a midrange jumper to make it 17-13.
"You can't give a team any type of edge, especially in their building," Mitchell said. "But it really came down to just settling down and finding our groove."
And it all started on the defensive end. The Broncbusters forced back-to-back turnovers in the final 10 seconds of the quarter that led to uncontested layups for Washington and Roberts, putting Garden City back in front for good.
"Jada came with a lot of energy tonight," Mitchell explained. "I'm very proud of the way that she played."
Washington scored 12 of her 21 points before halftime, and her 3-pointer with 1:37 remaining in the second quarter gave Garden City their largest lead of the half, 42-25. They were up 14 at the intermission.
"I'll keep saying it: we are getting more consistent," Mitchell added. "But we are still far off. We have to be so much better on Saturday if we want to have a chance."
Despite an erratic first half, the Broncbusters put their foot on Colby's throat in the third. Washington's sensational 3-point play ignited an 11-0 run that put Garden City up 55-33 with 4:38 to play in the period. The sophomore was far from finished, adding one more trey in the final period, increasing the margin to 72-48. She finished with a season high four 3's (4-of-8 from downtown).
"I'm glad we won, but it was a little bit of a lackluster performance," Mitchell said. "We gave them too many opportunities."
The Broncbusters streak of holding five straight opponents under 40 percent shooting ended as Colby connected on a season-best 44 percent on 20-45 from the field. They were also 7-of-11 from deep.
Kaitlyn Guillory recorded her fifth double-figure scoring game of the season, tallying 14 points of 5-of-8 shooting. Bixenman added 11 with three 3's.
Next up: Garden City at Seward County-Saturday, Jan. 13-5:45 p.m. pregame; 6 p.m. tip on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app