Bearkats thrash Hermleigh, 72-36

Everybody knows Garden City for its state championship football team, but the basketball version of the Bearkats might be ready to make some postseason noise, also.Led by the senior duo of Aaron Long and Brett Chudej, the ‘Kats opened the Class 1A Div. II playoffs with a convincing 72-36 shellacking of Hermleigh at Dorothy Garrett Coliseum Tuesday night.Chudej scored 19 points and Long added 16, while Corbin Davis and Hayden Halfmann chipped in 12 and 10 points, respectively, to pace Garden City, which improved to 14-7 for the season with the victory.The Cardinals, who ended the season with a 10-15 record, were led by Blake Thompson, who scored 13 points.The ‘Kats scored the game’s first 17 points -- 15 of which came from Chudej and Long -- and were never seriously threatened, but it wasn’t until Garden City put on a defensive clinic in the the third quarter that matters were firmly and finally settled.Coming out of intermission with a 37-21 lead, Garden City squelched any Hermleigh hopes for a comeback with a masterful third-quarter performance.Again, it was Long and Chudej who did most of the offensive damage early, scoring 9 of the team’s first 10 points in the stanza. That was more than enough offense, as the ‘Kats went into lockdown mode on the other end of the court, limiting the Cardinals to only 3 points in the third. So dominating was G-City’s defense that Hermleigh had more than twice as many turnovers (seven) as it did points during that stretch.“That’s what we talked about at halftime. We were just giving up way too many points,” Garden City Head Coach Koby Abney said. “It wasn’t a matter of effort, it was our execution ... but we performed well in the third quarter.”The Bearkats got a late start in basketball, thanks to their state championship run in football, but they appear to be rounding into form at just the right time of the season.However, Abney cautioned that his team still has a long way to go.“Due to our late start, we’re never going to be where I want them to be,” Abney said. “We played good tonight, but we haven’t topped out by any means. We still have room for improvement.”Garden City advances to play Dell City in the area round of the playoffs. The game is tentatively set for Friday night in Monahans.