By Mike Pilosof
Levelland, TX-Stand around Coach Charinee Mitchell for two seconds, and there's no question Garden City made a slam-dunk hire. Tuesday night's setback is all the more reason to believe that the first-year leader will turn things around quicker than most expect.
Mikaya Kuehne tallied 17 points, South Plains hit 15-of-19 from the line, and the 16th-ranked Lady Texans handed the Broncbusters their first loss of the season 60-35 at the Texan Dome.
"We were down 9-2 early, and we kept telling our girls there is plenty of clock left," Mitchell explained afterwards. "Our biggest thing tonight was heart. We were defeated very early."
It was a rough start for Garden City, who gave up a 3-pointer to Kuehne on the first possession of the game, which was compounded by Jada Washington's turnover. Alexis Popham followed with a jumper, Maddie Dorris hit a 15-footer and Johnson buried a deep 2 to make it 9-0.
"There are no excuses for effort," Mitchell said. "We have to be better in that regard."
The Broncbusters missed their first six shots from the field before Daz'Monique Johnson got Garden City (2-1) on the board with 4:04 left in the first quarter. They trailed 18-4 at the end of the period.
"We didn't shoot well, but that's not an excuse," Mitchell said. "We preach defense, and regardless of how we are shooting, we need to defend better."
The Broncbusters missed 13 of their 16 shots in the second quarter while the Texans made conscious effort to get to the line, hitting 9-of-10 free throws while closing the half on an 8-0 run to take a 32-11 lead into the locker room. The onslaught continued into the third quarter when Kuehne hit a jumper to give South Plains a 37-13 cushion with 7:43 to go.
"Shots aren't going to go in when you're defeated," Mitchell said. "You're not going to get stops, and that was our biggest problem tonight."
Garden City shot a season-worst 24 percent for the game, and turned it over 18 times. It's the second time this year they've had 15 or more giveaways in a game. (Daz'Monique) Johnson was the only Broncbuster in double figures with 11 points in 21 minutes.
La'Praisjah Johnson scored 16 for South Plains, who won their second straight game after losing their season opener to Cochise.
"Right now, this is about us," Mitchell said. "We have to be comfortable with what we are running on both sides before we can stop somebody."
Next up: Garden City at Butler-Saturday, Nov. 11-5:15 p.m. pregame; 5:30 p.m. tip on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app