By Mike Pilosof
El Dorado, KS-Heading into a matchup against one of the best defensive teams in the country, Charinee Mitchell implored her team to take care of the basketball. But in the end, it was more self-inflicted wounds that ended any chance of an upset.
Southern-Illinois transfer Criste'On Waters scored 15 points in 11 minutes off the bench, former Wichita-South star Kyla Callins totaled a team-high 10 rebounds, and Butler beat Garden City 68-58 Saturday afternoon at the Power Plant. It was the Grizzlies 14th straight home victory and 38th consecutive win when leading at the half.
"We just have to make shots and lessen the turnovers," Mitchell said. "We had some really good spurts in this game, but there were too many times where it wasn't good enough."
The Broncbusters' plan to attack Butler's press proved to be effective early. Talia Roberts, who left the game in the second half after twisting her right ankle, drained a 3 from the left corner, Alyssya Boyce swished a long ball and hit a layup, and Garden City (9-7, 4-3) was up 8-4.
But that good feeling quickly dissipated.
The Grizzlies closed the first quarter on a 10-1 run, extended that spurt to 17-3 once Callins drilled a triple and held Garden City without a field goal for nearly seven minutes, building a 24-11 lead with 4:55 to play in the first half. They were up 12 at the intermission.
"At the end of the day, we can prevent a loss if we do our part," Mitchell said. "We threw the ball away way too much."
Seven days earlier, Mitchell's team climbed out of a 15-point hole to down Independence in overtime. A week later, it appeared the Broncbusters were on their way to repeating history. An 8-2 third-quarter run, fueled by Kelcy McHenry, who hit back-to-back buckets before firing a 70-foot baseball pass to Roberts for a transition layup, brought Garden City to within three, 35-32 with 4:40 remaining in the period.
"You almost have to play a perfect game here," Mitchell explained. "You have to dive on the floor for loose balls; those kind of things. We didn't do enough of that."
Garden City never got any closer than three. The Grizzlies answered with a 15-1 run to close the third, which coincided with a 14-0 spurt that pushed the lead to as many as 23 with 7:17 to play in the fourth.
"We will keep pushing," Mitchell said. "I need to make sure Talia is okay. We have a quick turnaround on Monday."
Butler won the game despite shooting just 38 percent from the floor. It was the 10th time this season that the Grizzlies shot under 40. They were 2-of-15 from 3 but hit 18-of-26 from the line.
Next up: Garden City vs. Seward County-Monday, Jan. 14-5:45 p.m. pregame; 6 p.m. tip on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app