By Mike Pilosof
Photo by Adam Shrimplin
Garden City, KS-Wednesday was a tough night for Garden City on many fronts.
First, their Head Coach Omega Tandy was put on administrative leave until Jan. 6. That moved Director of Athletics, Greg McVey into the top spot on an interim basis.
Then there was Faith Simpson, an all-American volleyball player who moonlights as a basketball star. And boy did she cause all kinds of problems.
The sophomore scored a season-high 28 points on 11-of-14 shooting, Independence transfer Ania Markowska added 14, and Coffeyville pulled away for an 83-70 victory over the Broncbusters at Conestoga Arena. The loss dropped Garden City to 0-4 in conference play, their worst start since 2006.
This game was definitely a tale of two halves.
In the first, Garden City went blow for blow with Coffeyville, a team that started the year 10-0 for the first time in 11 years. In fact, there were 12 lead changes and seven ties over the first 20 minutes.
Trailing by six with 2:30 left in the first, the Broncbusters found their groove. Deborah Ford hit a 10-footer in the paint, Alyssa Boyce finished an and-1 layup, and Dasja Ross completed a three-point play, putting Garden City up 18-17. The lead though lasted less than 20 seconds. Simpson hit 1-of-2 free throws, McKenzie Patton drilled a midrange jumper, and the Red Ravens had a one-point edge after one, 22-21.
The two teams played evenly in the second, and after Garden City fell down by four late in the half, Donetria McGee hit 1-of-2 charity shots, and Ford finished off a slick three-point play, tying the game at 37 going into the locker room.
But whatever positive momentum the Broncbusters built in the first half, was wiped away by a miserable final 20 minutes.
Garden City couldn't buy a basket in the second half, finishing 5-of-30 (17 percent) from the floor over the final two quarters. They missed 18 of their 21 shots in the fourth period alone.
Meantime, the Red Ravens couldn't miss, and a big reason for that was Simpson, who rolled to the rim for an easy layup, hit two free throws and banked home a hook shot from the right block over the smaller Boyce, spearheading an 8-0 run that put Coffeyville up 59-48 with 1:20 to play in the third. They were up 10 going to the fourth.
Unfortunately, the nightmare was just beginning.
Garden City was limited to just one field goal over the first eight minutes of the frame, falling down by as many as 19 points once Markowska glided down the left side of the lane for a layup that put Coffeyville in front 75-56 with 6:12 remaining.
Markowska was the lone Red Raven starter in double figures with 14 points to go along with six rebounds, six assists and four steals. But it was the reserves who took Coffeyville home, outscoring Garden City's bench 61-25. Calafell had 11, and Patton hit two crushing 3-pointers in the second half to help the Red Ravens pull away.
Boyce scored 17 points for Garden City off the bench, bouncing back from her 1-of-10 showing on Saturday vs. Cowley. Ford had 15 points and seven rebounds in 31 minutes, and Ross chipped in 11 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals. Jaleah Bellany, who scored a career-high 32 points on Saturday, was held to just three on 1-of-8 shooting in 18 minutes.
Next up: Garden City at Independence-Saturday, Jan. 4-3:45 p.m. pregame; 4 p.m. tip on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app