By Mike Pilosof
Hutchinson, KS-Already shorthanded on Wednesday night, the Broncbusters needed to find a supplement for leading scorer Talia Roberts, who missed her second straight game with a right-ankle sprain.
Instead, Garden City turned in one of their worst offensive performances of the season.
Jada Mickens poured in 15 points and pulled down eight rebounds, Abby Ogle added 13 points in 26 minutes, and No. 4 Hutchinson sprinted by Garden City 87-56 at the Sports Arena.
"I'm embarrassed at our performance tonight," Head Coach Charinee Mitchell said afterwards. "This was totally unacceptable. We didn't want to play basketball tonight."
It wasn't all bad. Alyssa Boyce and Jaleah Bellany combined to hit three 3's in the first five minutes, and the game was tied at 9. But as Hutchinson (18-0, 9-0) has done to so many times this season, the offense finally awoke. Makayla Vannett hit a 3, Roebuck swished a free throw, and Tijuana Kimbro nailed a baby hook, torpedoing an 18-5 run to close the first. They led 21-12 going into the second.
"Hutchinson is a good team, there is no doubt about that; their record proves it," Mitchell said. "But we didn't play at all."
The onslaught continued in the second period when the Blue Dragons polished off a 12-0 surge with Kimbro's offensive rebound and stick back that put the home squad up 29-12. A few minutes later, Mickens finished at the rim with a two-handed layup on a beautiful setup by Vannett that gave Hutchinson their largest lead of the first half, 39-16 with 3:25 to go in the second. All of this while Garden City misfired on 17 of their final 24 shots before the intermission.
"We didn't want to play today for some odd reason," Mitchell said. "We took 10 steps backwards."
With the lead at 15 early in the third, the Blue Dragons bullied the Broncbusters into submission, scoring nine straight points, which included Ogle's back-to-back baskets and Vannett's rainbow 3-pointer. In all, Hutchinson outscored Garden City 25-13 in the third and 48-30 over the final 20 minutes. They built their lead as high as 33 when Kelsey Brett hit a driving layup that made it 87-54 with 34 seconds remaining.
"There's just no excuse for how we played," Mitchell said.
More concerning was the health of guard Felicity Houston, who injured her right arm with 2:39 to play in the third. She did not return.
"I'll know more later on," Mitchell said.
Milan Schimmel scored 11 points and hit three 3's for Hutchinson, who won their 12th straight game at home. Vannett chipped in 10 while Ogle tied a season-high with six steals.
Bellany led the way with 13 points for Garden City, who lost their third straight game to a ranked opponent. Daz'Monique Johnson recorded her sixth double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Next up: Garden City at NW Tech-Saturday, Jan. 19-2:45 p.m. pregame; 3 p.m. tip on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app