By Mike Pilosof
Garden City, KS-Wednesday night had nothing to do with Garden City's opponent. Instead, Head Coach Omega Tandy was aiming to instill some confidence in her team after blowing back-to-back fourth-quarter leads.
Jaleah Bellany and Alyssa Boyce combined for 47 points and six 6's, Garden City tied both the single-game steals (27) and assists (29) records, and the Broncbusters rolled to a 108-54 win over Bethel's JV squad at Conestoga Arena.
"We always talk about how are we going to respond to adversity," Tandy said. "Bethel was a very physical team. They kept the game close in the second, but I thought we responded really well in the third."
It was the third time this season that Garden City had 20 or more steals in a game and their fourth with 20 or more assists. They had five players in double figures.
"Our biggest thing has been finishing off of other teams' mistakes," Tandy said. "We did a much better job of that tonight."
Bethel led for all of two minutes in the game. In fact, after Ashton Brown drilled a 3 for the Threshers to begin the contest, Garden City responded with 12 straight points, which included a Boyce triple and a steal and layup by Dasja Ross. The Broncbusters were up 13 at the end of one.
"Everything we do is based on our defense," Tandy said.
Bellany drilled a jumper to begin the second, Deborah Ford swished a pair of free throws, Tyla Happer connected on a midrange pullup, and the Broncbusters were up 34-17 five minutes into the period. Happer added another deuce, and Bellany hit a driving layup in the final seconds, giving Garden City a 42-26 lead at the intermission.
"Our focus and our energy was much better tonight," Tandy explained. "Alyssa could be the number one scorer on a lot of teams. She's a natural scorer. She's fun to watch. And we are asking her to play a different role for us this year and come off of the bench. She's handled it well."
The Broncbuster defense forced 21 turnovers in the first half and 49 for the game. They scored an incredible 63 points off Thresher giveaways.
"We wanted to turn them over at least 25 times," Tandy added. "Our team has proven that we are good in that area."
If there was any doubt after the first two quarters, the Broncbusters put that to bed in the third, scoring 33 points on 59 percent shooting. They canned 5-of-7 3s and forced 13 turnovers, limiting Bethel to just 14 points on 2-of-9 shooting. Bellany scored 10 of her career-high 24 in the period including a 3 that stretched the lead to 21. She then found Happer for a triple before slicing through the Bethel defense for a layup, giving the Broncbusters a 30-point cushion. They led by 35 going to the fourth.
"Our morale got down a little bit, so I wanted us to get a confidence booster," Tandy said. "Now, I hope we can take that and channel it into Saturday."
Boyce netted a career-best 23 points on 10-of-15 shooting in 25 minutes off the bench for Garden City, who snapped a two-game skid. Ross chipped in 14 points and six assists, Happer tallied 12, and Corina Suarez-Tudela reached double-figures for the second time this season with 11.
Mariah Ramirez paced the Threshers with 12 points, and Ashton Brown had 11.
Next up: Garden City vs. Cowley-Saturday, Dec. 7-1:45 p.m. pregame; 2 p.m. tip on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app