By Mike Pilosof
Photos by Adam Shrimplin
But in the end, it still wasn't enough.
Jaylin Stapleton scored 19 points, Mallory Miller added 15, and Barton finished off a season sweep of the Broncbusters with a 70-63 victory Sunday afternoon at Conestoga Arena. The loss means Garden City is the No. 6 seed out of the west, setting up a showdown with Independence in the opening round of the Region VI Tournament on Wednesday.
"Barton just had an answer to everything," Garden City Head Coach Charinee Mitchell said. "It's unfortunate when that happens against a really good team."
The Cougars first answer came right out of the gate. Talia Roberts made a 3 for Garden City, which was followed by nine straight points by Barton.
"It was just hard for us to sustain anything," Mitchell said.
Trailing by three late in the second quarter, Bellany knocked down a 3- from the top of the key to tie the game at 24. That's when the Cougars responded again, closing the half on an 8-2 run over the final 2:39.
"Our biggest issue today was that we just had breakdowns with talking on defense," Mitchell said. "A lot of our defensive breakdowns allowed them to get second-chance opportunities."
Barton opened up a double-digit lead in the third quarter following Mallory Miller's 3-pointer from the right wing that put the Cougars up 37-26. But the Broncbusters immediately responded with seven straight points, polished off with Bellany's driving layup that cut it to three, 37-34 with 6:22 to go in the period.
"We did a nice job of making some runs," Mitchell said. "But those defensive breakdowns bit us in the end."
The Cougars eventually pushed their lead back to nine when Stapelton found a crease to the basket later in the frame. Barton was up 51-46 going to the fourth.
"I'm no as worried about our offense as I am about our defense," Mitchell admitted. "When we play well defensively, everything else works itself out."
The Broncbusters did come back to tie the game in the fourth. Daz'Monique Johnson finished at the basket, and Bellany hit a line-drive trey from the wing to knot the score at 53. But Garden City never took the lead in the final period, and Barton hit them with a 7-0 run to stretch their advantage to seven. The Broncbusters never got any closer than four the rest of the way.
The Cougars hit 7-of-14 from downtown and shot 44 percent from the field. They were 13-of-15 at the line.
Roberts scored 23 points in 39 minutes for Garden City, who watched their three-game winning streak come to an end. Bellany hit six 3's off the bench and finished with 22 points.
Next up: Garden City at Independence-Wednesday, Feb. 27-5:45 p.m. pregame; 6 p.m. tip on AM 1030; westernkansasnews.com/kbuf and KBUF mobile app