By Mike Pilosof
Photo by Adam Shrimplin
Lamar, CO-This just in, Tahlik Chavez can shoot. Not that anyone on the Broncbuster staff is surprised.
The sophomore nailed five 3's, Traylynn Spencer poured in 25 points in 26 minutes, and Garden City improved to 2-0 with a hard-fought, 78-74 win over Lamar Tuesday night at the Wellness Center.
"We knew Lamar was going to come out with a lot of energy," Head Coach Patrick Nee said. "They are going to win a lot of games. But this was like a conference game for us, so it's big to get the win."
After trailing by one at the half, the Broncbusters came out on fire to begin the final frame. Mason Osborne canned a 3, igniting a 7-0 run that put the Broncbusters up 43-36. Later in the half, after Lamar closed to within two, it was Chavez, swishing a 26-footer off an offensive rebound following a Daishaun Woods' missed free throw to give Garden City their largest lead of the night, 60-51 with 9:25 remaining.
"That's what we expect from Tahlik," Nee explained. "This is a guy who hit 124 3s last year, so we live with some of the shots that he takes."
Chavez's unlimited range seem to stymie every Lopes' run. When Oscar Maldonado capped Lamar's 11-0 spurt with a 3 that put the home team up 62-60 with less than six minutes remaining, it was Chavez again, hitting a deep 3-pointer following Spencer's two free throws that snapped a near four-minute drought and gave the Broncbusters a 65-64 edge. Spencer added a big hook shot a minute later to stretch the lead to three.
"We're a smaller team, so we have to scrap on every possession," Nee said.
Lamar though refused to go away, and Blayton Williams trey with 3:50 to play knotted the score at 67. But that didn't last long once Chavez got the ball in his hands again, quickly answering with a triple in front of his own bench. Williams missed a tying 3 on the other end, Spencer knocked down two free throws, and Garden City was up five. Then Chavez hit what appeared to be a dagger following Kaleb Favors' offensive rebound. The freshman sprinted to the wing, used a hesitation dribble and drained a 25-foot bomb that made it a six-point contest.
"Sometimes Tahlik and I differ on what's a good shot," Nee said with a chuckle. "But you live with that because he is such a good shooter."
The Broncbusters though left the door open. Osborne turned the ball over leading to a layup and a three-point play. Williams then followed with a layup, and the Lopes were within two. After Spencer split a pair of free throws, Lamar had a chance to tie. But Maldonado's 3 bounced off the back iron. Spencer grabbed the rebound with .5 seconds to go; hit one free throw on the other end, and Garden City escaped with a four-point win.
"We didn't knock down free throws like we needed to," Nee said. "But we found a way."
Chavez netted 25 points on 9-of-15 shooting. He was 5-of-8 from downtown, while Spencer was 8-of-12 from the field and 9-of-12 at the line despite limited minutes in the second half due to foul trouble. Osborne chipped in 10.
Adonis Wallace paced the Lopes with 20 points and was 4-of-6 from deep. Williams had 17, and Peter Turay finished with 15 points on a perfect 7-of-7 from the field.
Next up: Garden City at Otero-Monday, Nov. 11-7:45 p.m. pregame; 8 p.m. tip on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app