Williams leads Red Demons' charge over Buffaloes

The Dodge City Red Demons were looking for some of the younger players to step up in their first game back from the holiday break against the rival Garden City Buffaloes in the Western Athletic Conference opener Tuesday night at DCHS Fieldhouse. In a game where neither team shot the ball well, sophomore post player Noah Williams responded by scoring 10 points and grabbed nine rebounds (six offensive) to lead the defending league champion Red Demons to a 35-26 victory over the Buffaloes in a very defensive styled game. Williams was 5-of-6 from the field. "I got some good rest and practiced," Williams said about how well he played. "I think (injuries to players) helped my step up and grow into my role as a player. It feels really good (to beat Garden City)." DCHS boys basketball head coach Dennis Hamilton said Williams' play was crucial in the victory as Dodge City shot only 15-of-49 from the field and 4-of-10 from the line. "I think he took a step in the right direction," Hamilton said. "I think everybody would agree that if we were giving out game balls, we'd have to give it to him. He's a guy with his size and strength, who took advantage of it and grabbed balls. I think he's taken getting offensive rebounds to heart and had a coming out party." The Red Demons also used their patented defense and rebounding abilities on the offensive end on the way to the league opening victory. Dodge City scored 12 points off of turnovers and 11 off of second chances. Garden City didn't score any points off of turnovers or on second chances. "We tell the kids: 'Do you want to score; grab offensive rebounds,'" Hamilton said. "We were also pretty solid defensively tonight. We primarily were in our man, but we went into our zone late to slow them down. Our kids are buying it more and more; and that's something we should know and something we should bring every night. "Defense has nothing to do with ball skills; it's just mental toughness and our guys are getting better in that category." Senior Jace Larson added eight points and five rebounds in his return to the lineup after injury for the Red Demons (2-3), while Caden Walters scored six and grabbed six boards in the win. Tristian Nanninga scored eight points to lead Garden City (4-3). The first half was not a shooting clinic as Dodge City went 4-of-23 from the field, while Garden City was 3-of-14. Neither team made a basket until Larson hit one after more than five minutes of play. The score was tied at 4-4 after one period and the Buffaloes led 9-8 at halftime. Dodge City took control of the game in the third quarter with five points off second chances and four more off turnovers to lead 22-15 going into the final stanza. The Demons' largest lead of the game was 11 early in the closing quarter, with Garden City not able to get closer than seven the rest of the way. Garden City shot 8-of-36 from the field in the loss. The Red Demons will face Cimarron in non-conference action Friday night at United Wireless Arena. Tipoff between Dodge City and the Bluejays is scheduled for 8 p.m. GARDEN CITY (26) -- Caleb Tramp 3, Hunter Delgado 2, Miguel Olivas 3, Jared Koster 3, Mitchell Hernandez 5, Tristian Nanninga 8, Luis Rodriguez 2. Totals 8 7-15 26. DODGE CITY (35) -- Julian Sands 2, Bryce Unruh 2, Austin Weiser 5, Jackson Oldham 2, Caden Walters 6, Jace Larson 8, Noah Williams 10. Totals 15 4-10 35. Garden City 4 5 6 11 -- 26 Dodge City 4 4 14 13 -- 35 Three-point baskets -- Garden City 3 (Olivas 1, Koster 1, Hernandez 1), Dodge City 1 (Weiser 1). Records -- Garden City 4-3, Dodge City 2-3.