PRATT — For the first time this season the Cloud County Thunderbirds let one get away from them.
Heading into a Jayhawk Conference Western Division matchup with Pratt Community College, the T-Birds had lost nine games by an average of just over five points.
Cloud County's worst loss of the season was a 10-point setback, but Pratt opened up an early 12-point lead and cruised to a 90-66 defeat of the T-Birds on Wednesday night.
"It is the first time all year we haven't been in it in the last minute or two. Our losses have been really tight," Cloud County coach Chad Eshbaugh said.
Cloud County has dropped two straight road games to open conference play, and falls to 8-10 overall.
Pratt, coming off a win over Barton County, is now 12-6 overall and 2-0 in the Jayhawk West.
"I thought Pratt played excellent. They moved the ball well and played better than we did in every facet," Eshbaugh said.
Pratt scored the first four points of the game, but consecutive three-point shots by Shaun Stewart and a pair of free throws by Marvin Smith gave Cloud County an 8-4 lead.
Stewart led Cloud County with 19 points.
Baskets by Taylor Schieber and Deshun Roberts pulled Pratt even at 8-8.
Cloud County scored off of an offensive rebounds, and led 10-8.
Pratt pumped in six points in less than a minute to go on top to stay, 14-10.
Derek Henry knocked down a three, and Cloud County trailed just 14-13.
Five straight points by Roberts, a baseline jumper by Robert Davis and consecutive baskets by Kaion Laatham-Seales pushed the Beavers' lead to 25-13 with just over 10 minutes to play in the first half.
"It is pretty simple. We didn't defend with any purpose and you couple that with how much we struggled to string together offensive possession, you get yourself down," Eshbaugh said.
Cloud County scored seven straight points to close the gap to 25-20.
Pratt answered with a 9-0 spurt to open up a 34-20 advantage.
The Beavers would up the lead to 18 points, 39-21.
Stewart hit a three for Cloud County, but Schieber answered with a triple of his own, and it was 42-24.
A basket by Lorenzo Dillard and a three-point play by Stewart got the T-Birds within 13 points, 42-39.
A three by Eric Dobbins put Pratt up 45-29 at halftime.
Smith scored the first two points of the second half to make it 45-31.
Kevin Allen, a 6-10 sophomore, responded with a three-point play and then a follow dunk to give Pratt a 50-31 cushion.
Lionel Gomis scored for Cloud County, but Roberts hit a three, and the Beavers led 53-33.
Cloud County would get no closer than 17 points after that.
"When you lose you always want to turn the page pretty quickly because there is another one coming up, But if you don't take a second and learn from your mistakes you will repeat them," Eshbaugh said.
Cloud County hosts Barton County in a conference game on Saturday night.