GARDEN CITY – The Dodge City Red Demons were successful this season with their defensive play and taking care of the fundamentals. Unfortunately it was the Garden City Buffaloes who made the big plays when it counted in a 40-37 victory in the Class 6A boys sub-state final at the New Garden.
The Buffaloes made two steals and hit enough free throws to stay ahead in the late stages of the game after Dodge City had fought back from a double-digit deficit to take a 28-27 lead early in the fourth quarter. The two teams traded baskets for most of the stanza until Garden City took the lead for good with a five-point run that started with 3:30 left in regulation.
One aspect the Red Demons had trouble with was at the foul line. Dodge City was only 9-of-18 from the line (including 4-of-9 in the second half). Another was turnovers at inopportune times. The Demons turned the ball over twice in the final stanza, but both went for baskets.
"We can 'what if' this game all we want," said DCHS head coach Dennis Hamilton. "It was a game that was going to be who was going to make the plays at the end, and unfortunately it was them."
The Buffaloes also came out very aggressive, but patient on offense; unlike the previous two games where the Demons were able to pull away with the lead early and maintain their defensive pressure as the game progressed. Garden City was able to find the open man on a number of occasions for short shots.
"We knew it was going to be a tough game and we knew somebody was going to come up on the short end," Hamilton said. "Unfortunately tonight, it was Dodge City."
Guard Austin Weiser led Dodge City (13-8) in scoring with 14 points, while Jace Larson added 10 in the loss. Bo Banner led all scorers with 16 points to push the Buffaloes (15-7) and Hunter Delgado added 10 for Garden City. Banner and Delgado accounted for all five 3-point baskets made by the Buffaloes in the game.
Banner scored the first five points of the game to give the Buffaloes the early lead, building it to 8-4 by the end of the quarter. Dodge City's only field goal in seven tries of the period was a three-pointer by Weiser, with a free throw by Kelan Newton accounting for the other point. Garden City was 3-of-12 from the field in the stanza.
Garden City continued being aggressive in their offensive plays in the second quarter, hitting three baskets to increase the lead to 15-5 with 5:06 remaining before intermission. The Red Demons came back with a 10-point run over the next 2 1/2 minutes to tie the contest before the Buffaloes scored the final four points of the half to lead 19-15 at intermission.
Weiser had nine of Dodge City's points and also grabbed five rebounds in the first half. The Demons were 4-of-15 from the field and committed 10 turnovers after 16 minutes of play.
Garden City scored 10 points off of those turnovers with Banner leading the Buffaloes in scoring with eight. The Buffaloes were 7-of-23 from the field.
The Buffaloes started early again and pushed the lead up to eight, but the Demons were able to get the game down to two and trailed 27-24 going into the final quarter.
After Dodge City took the lead and the Buffaloes answered, the Demons had one more possession to tie the game and send it into overtime, but both shots went off the rim to end their season.
"They're disappointed right now, but these kids still have a lot to be proud of this season," Hamilton said. "They were able to accomplish the four-peat for the WAC title and they played hard tonight. There's not much more we could have asked of them."
DODGE CITY (37) – Austin Weiser 14, Jace Larson 10, Shaphan Gross 6, Kelan Newton 3, Matt Goedeken 4. Totals 13 9-18 37.