By Mike Pilosof
Photos by Adam Shrimplin
Garden City, KS-Monday's final score doesn't tell the whole story. It rarely ever does.
Carla Covane scored 20 points on 8-of-8 shooting, Silvia Veloso and Karolina Szydlowska each chipped in 11, and No. 11 Seward County survived an upset scare to beat Garden City 68-60 at Conestoga Arena.
"That's what good teams do, they finish," Broncbuster Coach Charinee Mitchell said afterwards. "That's what type of team Seward is. But I'm proud of how this team fought tonight."
Garden City (9-8, 4-4) was dealt a major blow before tip, when it was announced leading scorer Talia Roberts would miss the game with a right-ankle sprain.
"We were shorthanded, but we had a lot of girls step up tonight," Mitchell said.
Cue Jaleah Bellany.
The freshman guard picked up where she left off Saturday afternoon, pouring in 20 points and drilling five 3's, including a cold-blooded triple that put the Broncbusters up 55-49 with 4:54 remaining.
"We are doing things a lot better, but we still have to get better," Mitchell said.
The Broncbusters have made a living coming back from big deficits. They climbed out of a 15-point hole to beat Independence in overtime and nearly knocked of No. 20 Butler when they trailed by as many as 23. On Monday, Seward County (14-2, 6-1) built what seemed like a comfortable 16-point cushion. They were up 12 at the half.
The third quarter was a different story entirely.
The Broncbusters outscored the Saints 14-1, limiting Seward County to 0-for-10 shooting while forcing eight turnovers, turning a 12-point deficit into a 46-45 advantage going into the final period.
"We played pretty good defense," Mitchell said. "Our defense got us back in the game."
In the fourth, Bellany drilled a triple to give the Broncbusters a 49-47 lead with 9:22 remaining. Moments later, Kelcy McHenry hit 1-of-2 free throws and Lonniqua Johnson banked home a driving layup to give the home squad a five-point edge. After Aquila Mucubaquire answered with a layup for Seward County, Bellany canned what appeared to be a dagger 3 with less than five minutes to go.
But the Saints stormed back. Szydlowska nailed a trey and connected from in close, and Silvia Veloso made three straight layups-igniting an 11-0 run to give the Seward County a five-point lead. However, the backbreaking moment came in the final minute with Garden City clinging to life. Down by 3, Veoloso splashed home a triple with the shot clock winding down, making it a two-possession contest with 13 seconds to play.
"She's (Veloso) a big-time player," Mitchell said. "I told her in the line afterwards that that was a big shot."
The Saints closed the game on a 19-5 run, holding the Broncbuters to just two buckets over the final 4:54.
Bellany finished 6-of-11 from the field and 5-of-8 from downtown for Garden City, who lost their second straight game. Alyssa Boyce added 13 and Daz'Monique Johnson tallied 12 points and 13 rebounds, her third straight double-double.
Next up: Garden City at Hutchinson-Wednesday, Jan. 16-5:15 p.m. pregame; 5:30 p.m. tip on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app