By Mike Pilosof
Garden City, KS-Broncbuster Coach Charinee Mitchell did not mince words after Wednesday night's game.
"We got outhustled," she said emphatically.
There really was no other way to describe it.
Former Wichita South star Ericka Mattingly was up to her old tricks, scoring a game-high 17 points, Taylor Birch nailed three 3s, and Butler swept the season series from Garden City with a 76-63 victory at Conestoga Arena. It was the Grizzlies sixth straight win, while the Broncbusters dropped their second straight game.
"I don't know what our team was looking at, but they were beaten soundly," Mitchell said. "They were outhustled all game long; to loose balls; on the glass, everything."
Despite the double-digit loss, Garden City (10-8, 7-7) was steady early. Shakendra Tilley's and-1 layup gave the Broncbusters a 5-2 lead three minutes into the first quarter. But boy did things change after that. Birch nailed a trey, Mattingly added a three-point play and a jumper, Kyla Callins splashed home a 12 footer, and Reagan Sanchez swished a triple, finishing off a 12-0 run that had Butler up 14-5. They led by eight at the end of one.
Another long scoring drought ensued for the Broncbusters in the second quarter, which coincided with another 12-0 spurt by Butler (12-5, 9-5) that bumped the Grizzlies lead to 20, 29-9 with 4:04 left in the half.
"We have to prove we can play with these top teams," Mitchell said. "So far, we haven't proven anything."
Give Garden City a lot of credit. As poorly as they shot over the first 14 minutes (they missed 23 of their first 26 shots), the Broncbusters hung tough, eventually closing the half on an 8-0 surge, fueled by Abigail Green's 3-pointer from the top of the key and Tilley's three-point play. Garden City trailed 33-24 at the intermission.
"We made a run, but they continued to outhustle us," Mitchell said.
Butler began the third quarter much like they had the second, scoring eight straight points to stretch the lead to 17. After Daz'Monique Johnson ended the run with a deuce for Garden City, Birch hit back-to-back 3's for the Grizzlies before Callins' layup gave Butler their biggest advantage, 49-26 with 5:31 to go in the period.
"It's really disappointing," Mitchell said. "We can't come out like that and expect to win a game. I don't care where it's played."
Trailing by 16 going into the fourth, Garden City made a couple of pushes to get back in the game. Twice in the final five minutes, the Broncbusters trimmed the deficit to nine. But after Johnson's bucket made it 66-57, Butler called a timeout. The Grizzlies responded with four quick points by Mattingly and Birch, and their lead never dipped below 10 again.
Birch finished with 13 points for the Grizzlies, who have won five straight over Garden City. Awreona Ransom added 10 while her team shot 51 percent from the floor.
Jada Washington paced the Broncbusters with 14, and Tilley had 10 points and a season-high 16 rebounds.
Next up: Garden City at Barton County-Saturday, Jan. 20-5:15 p.m. pregame; 5:30 p.m. tip on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app