The Dodge City Red Demons boys basketball team fell just short in a comeback-bid Tuesday night, losing to the Garden City Buffaloes by a score of 64-61.

A 3-point attempt by Dodge City in the final seconds bounced off the back of the rim and out, and the clock expired before they could get off another shot.

It was a narrow escape for Garden City, which missed nearly every free throw in the final four minutes of the game, while Dodge City ate away at what was a 16-point lead to start the quarter.

Early on, it didn’t appear it’d be nearly that close.

The Buffaloes used nine 3-pointers in the first half to take control. In the first quarter, it was a battle from deep between them and Dodge City senior Kaden Riekenberg.

Garden City had four 3’s in the first quarter, but Riekenberg had three 3’s of his own. At the end of the first, Garden City led Dodge City 20-17.

“They’re really good shooters,” Red Demons head coach Tony Starnes said. “They’re shooting the ball extremely-confident right now and we seem to not be.”

In the second quarter the Buffaloes opened it up outscoring Dodge City 26-13. They made five 3’s in the second quarter alone, and by the end of it led 46-30.

Despite taking a 57-41 lead into the final quarter, the Buffaloes nearly gave the game away, missing free-throws in the final minutes while Dodge City made baskets to close the game. Despite not scoring the final four points they would have needed for a win, the Red Demons outscored the Buffs 20-7 in the fourth quarter.

Starnes said Garden City did a good job in the victory, and made the most plays.

“They were mentally and physically a little more ready for this than us,” Starnes said. “I was proud of our guys to be able to come back in the fourth quarter and make it a ballgame, but my question to ‘em in the postgame in the locker room was ‘How about coming out (in) the first of the ballgame with that fire and that narrowed-focus and so on?’”

Riekenberg led the Red Demons with a team-high 17 points. It was the most points he’s had in a single game this season.

Garden City junior Tye Davis led all scorers with a game-high 21.

One of the challenges the team has had lately is not having good practices, Starnes said.

“We’ve got to get back to where we’re having good practices, we’re confident in ourselves, we’re confident in what we do,” Starnes said.

That’s something they’ll need to change as soon as possible, especially ahead of Friday night’s game against Hays, a team known even more to shoot the 3-ball well.

“They bring us immense challenges,” Starnes said. “I don’t know how may (3’s) Garden hit tonight but Hays is likely to hit twice that number, or at least shoot it twice that much.”

The Indians can also shoot from a number of different positions. The Red Demons still have work to do, but Starnes said his team’s defensive effort was not what doomed the team Tuesday.

“It’s what we couldn’t do is what affected us, offensively,” Starnes said. “We had plenty of opportunities. We were 12 for 21 from the free-throw line the second half. We missed countless right-there-at-the-basket shots. We had plenty of opportunities to get back and maybe even take the lead in the ballgame, we’re just not there with it right now.”

The Red Demons boys basketball team hosts the Hays Indians at 8 p.m. Friday night in the Dodge City Field House.

Quarter scores

Garden City: 20, 26, 11, 7 — 64

Dodge City: 17, 13, 11, 20 — 61

To contact the writer, email sburch@dodgeglobe.com