In a deliberate Western Athletic Conference basketball game, where scoring came at a premium, Bo Banner of Garden City High School was the difference-maker.
Banner, a 6-foot-1 senior shooting guard, scored over half of the Buffaloes’ points, totaling a game-high 18 and leading them to a 34-25 slowdown victory over Great Bend on Friday night at Panther Fieldhouse.
“He hit some big 3s early in the game and then late in the game, he knocked down a lot of free throws and was huge for them,” Great Bend head coach Chris Battin said of Banner, who made 8 of 10 foul shots in the second half and scored seven fourth-quarter points, including 5-for-5 at the line.
“I told our kids in the locker room that any time you hold a team to 34 points, you’ve got to feel good and feel like we played really well on the defensive end. Unfortunately, we didn’t shoot it well enough to win the ballgame. We’ve got to find some scoring somewhere and get that going.”
The Panthers’ leading scorer was Gabe Joiner with six points.
Garden City improved to 12-5 overall, including 3-2 in league play, while Great Bend fell to 5-11, 2-3.
Banner scored eight first-quarter points, including a pair of 3s, as Garden City seized a 10-9 lead.
GBHS slowed the game to almost a standstill in the second period, outscoring the Buffs 7-2 for a 16-12 halftime lead. The Panthers’ Ethan Henderson scored off a putback, Brock Ibarra and Joiner each made 1 of 2 free throws and Bryce Beck nailed a 3-pointer.
“It’s ugly,” Garden City head coach Jacy Holloway said of the snail-like pace. “It’s not necessarily the most fun thing to watch, but sometimes, when we’re not hitting shots, it’s OK if we keep it close ourselves, to be honest.”
Garden City turned the tables on GBHS in the third quarter, going on a 9-2 run to seize a 21-18 lead after three quarters.
“I felt like sometimes we took some quick (shots) out of transition, one pass, and there was nobody in there to rebound,” Battin said. “Other times, we’d reverse it, reverse it, reverse it and then we’d throw it away.
“When you’re struggling to shoot the ball, you’ve got to make sure you at least get a shot attempt up. I dunno ... it’s a Catch-22. We’ve got to find some guys to knock down some shots.”
Banner opened the fourth quarter with a three-point play at the 7:40 mark for a 24-18 lead. After Beck hit a bucket and Dillon Reiser popped in a 3-ball from the top of the circle, the Panthers closed the gap to 24-23, but they would score only two points the rest of the way.
Banner answered with a pair of free throws at the 5:03 mark for a 26-23, and Emilo Parr’s only basket of the game increased the Buffs’ margin to 28-23 with 4:11 remaining.
A key play in the game occurred with 2½ minutes left and Garden City holding its five-point lead. Austin Terpstra misfired on a jumper from the baseline, but Banner was there to corral the rebound and the Buffs maintained possession.
After a Garden City timeout with 2:11 showing on the game clock, Tristan Nanninga sank 1 of 2 free throws to make it 29-23 at the two-minute mark and then Denton Keller, Banner and Evan Riggs each made two free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
“He’s doing a lot of things,” Holloway of Banner, who has scored 55 points in his last three games. “He plays defense and goes in and rebounds. He’s active and when you’re active, good things happen.
“He’s aggressive, he’s getting to the free-throw line and there’s a lot of reasons that he’s putting up some points. I can go down the list of all the things he’s doing, and it’s not just scoring.”
HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
Western Athletic Conference
At Great Bend
Garden City High School 34, Great Bend 25
GARDEN CITY (12-5, 3-2)
Hunter Delgado 0 0-0 0, Evan Riggs 0 1-2 1, Mitchell Hernandez 0 0-0 0, Tristan Nanninga 2 1-5 5, Bo Banner 4 8-10 18, Denton Keller 0 3-4 3, Austin Terpstra 0 0-0 0, Emilo Parr 1 0-0 2, Jared Koster 0 0-0 0, Caleb Tramp 2 1-2 5. Totals 9 14-23 34.
GREAT BEND (5-11, 2-3)
Trey Ibarra 0 0-0 0, Chad Touslee 1 0-2 2, Brock Ibarra 0 3-5 3, Bryce Beck 2 0-1 5, Dillon Reiser 1 0-1 3, Gabe Joiner 2 1-2 6, Ethan Henderson 2 0-0 4, Shade Wondra 0 0-0 0, Wyatt Bayless 0 2-2 2, Josh Lutz 0 0-0 0, Nick Warren 0 0-0 0. Totals 8 6-13 25.
Garden City 10 2 9 13 — 34
Great Bend 9 7 2 7 — 25
Three-point goals — Dodge City 3 (Beck, Reiser, Joiner); Garden City 2 (Banner 2). Total fouls — Great Bend 19, Garden City 16. Fouled out — Garden City (Parr); Great Bend (Henderson).