By Mike Pilosof
Photo by Adam Shrimplin
Garden City, KS-Through 13 games, Garden City has given fans a glimpse of good things to come. They just haven't put a complete game together.
Wednesday night was no exception.
Tony Hutson scored 15 points, Tylor Perry buried three triples including a back-breaker in the final 90 seconds, and Coffeyville snapped a two-game skid with a 62-58 victory over the Broncbusters at Conestoga Arena.
"This is hard now because we are done for two or three weeks," Head Coach Patrick Nee said afterwards. "This is pretty frustrating."
It was Garden City's third straight loss after opening the conference season with a come-from-behind win over Cloud County.
"There were a lot of similar plays in this game that they made and we didn't," Nee explained. "I really don't know what to say."
This was another winnable game for Garden City. They were facing a Coffeyville team that was a far cry from the one that was 40 minutes away from playing in the National Championship Game back in March.
After falling down by five early, the Broncbusters were the beneficiary of two rim-rattling Traylnn Spencer dunks in the first five minutes of the game, fueling a quick 6-0 to put the home squad up 8-7. It was one of four lead changes in the first half.
"I felt like we could have created more separation in the first half," Nee said. "But we never did."
The teams traded baskets for most of the opening period. With Garden City down three, Kaleb Favors swished four straight free throws, Spencer completed a three-point play; then followed with two freebies, and the Broncbusters were up 27-22 with 2:46 left in the half. But Garden City managed just one field goal the rest of the way. Coffeyville responded with seven straight points, which included a long 3 by Tony Hutson, and the Red Ravens were up 30-29 at the break.
"I felt like we weren't making those extra passes that we needed to," Nee said. "That was a problem, and it really hurt out offense."
Garden City appeared to find some rhythm in the second half. Tahlik Chavez, who was put in a straight jacket for most of the opening stanza, shook loose, nailing a 3 to give Garden City a 39-37 edge with 16:56 to play. Favors added two free throws, Daishaun Woods fired a beautiful look-away pass to a slashing Mason Osborne for a layup, and Darius Roden used a gorgeous spin move to finish at the basket, giving the Broncbusters a 47-41 advantage with 11:28 remaining.
"We are definitely getting better," Nee said. "I know I say that every game. But it's true. I really believe that. We just have to put everything together. It's unfortunate that we have to go into the break losing three straight games, but things will be different when January rolls around."
Neither offense was very impressive the rest of the way. But the Red Ravens made just enough plays to sneak into the lead. Wichita Northwest grad Jalen Smith nailed a couple of step-back jumpers from the foul line, and Perry drilled a triple from the top of the key, pushing Coffeyville in front 51-49 with less than eight minutes to go. But the freshman from the Sooner state saved his most lethal shot for the final two minutes.
With Coffeyville clinging to a one-point edge and the shot clock winding down, Bostyn Holt flipped a pass to Perry, who drained a 30-footer at the shot-clock horn. It gave the visitors a four-point lead with 1:33 to play.
"We played 29 seconds of great defense on that possession," Nee said. "The guy made a great shot."
Chavez though kept Garden City within striking distance, swishing a 3-pointer from the left corner to cut the deficit to one. After the Red Ravens pushed the lead back to three, Spencer was fouled and hit 1-of-2 at the line. Manny Crump then bricked a 3 from the corner, and Murray missed a tap back, giving the Broncbusters one last chance to tie or win the game. But Roden missed a contested shot in the paint; then misfired on a controlled tip. Murray grabbed the rebound, sank two free throws in the final seconds, and the Red Ravens escaped with their 10th win of the season.
"They knew we were going for the win," Nee said. "We probably should have drawn up something better than that."
Perry finished with 11 points in 34 minutes for Coffeyville. Murray chipped in 10, and Smith had 10 off the bench as the Red Ravens' reserves outscored the Broncbusters 32-10.
Spencer had 18 points and six rebounds for Garden City, who lost for the 11th time in their last 13 meetings to Coffeyville. Chavez tallied 14 points but was just 4-of-11 from the floor. Favors scored 11, finishing 9-of-10 at the line.
Next up: Garden City at Independence-Saturday, Jan. 4-6 p.m. tip on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app