Published in the Iola Register on Feb. 27, 2014.

CCCC knocks off Colby, ties for third in West

COLBY — The Cloud County Thunderbirds did what they needed to do, defeat Colby, and let the rest sort itself out.
Battling back from a nine-point deficit in the first half, the T-Birds knocked off Colby 64-50 in the final game of the regular season Wednesday.
Cloud County, with the win and Pratt's loss at Seward County, locked up fourth place in the Jayhawk Conference Division.
The T-Birds, 17-12 overall, finished 8-6 in the Conference and tied for third place with Garden City.
Garden City had the tiebreaker on Cloud County.
By finishing fourth, the T-Birds will host Northwest Kansas Tech (4-25) in the first round of the Region 6 Tournament at 6:00 Saturday night.
Northwest Kansas Tech was given the number five seed in the Jayhawk East.
“Since the Hutchinson game that is all we have talked about. We had two games left, and we had to win them, and we did.” Cloud County coach Brett Erkenbrack said, “It was a good win, and it is always a goal of mine to get a home playoff game, and we accomplished that. We finished tied for third in the Conference, which is a good accomplishment. We are relatively healthy, and we will try and do our best on Saturday night and hopefully get to play again.”
Colby, 2-28 overall and 0-14 in the Conference, used three-point shooting to grab a 21-12 lead on Cloud County.
Cloud County led 10-9 when Sierra Green knocked down a three to give the Trojans a 12-10 advantage.
Two free throws by Jayna Smith pulled Cloud County even at 12-12.
Colby got consecutive threes by Ariel Hutchinson and one by Deja Cato to open up a 21-12 advantage.
“I was pretty sure it wasn't going to be easy, and it wasn't. That can be a real dangerous situation going on the road against a team that hasn't won a Conference games, and they had one more chance at home,” Erkenbrack said, “They had some people who don't normally make shots hit threes against us.”
Holding the Trojans scoreless for better than nine minutes, the T-Birds tossed in 14 straight points to go back on top, 26-21.
“We maintained our composure I thought, and really played pretty well,” Erkenbrack said.
A basket by DeAndra Williams ended Colby's scoring drought, and made it a 26-23 game with 1:40 remaining in the first half.
Jordyn Alexander, who missed the first meeting, scored inside and Jayna Smith buried a three to extend Cloud County's lead to 31-23.
Smith and Alexander combined for 38 points.
Hitting 6 of 19 field goal attempts and 6 of 10 free throws, Smith scored 20 points.
Alexander finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds. She was 7 of 18 from the floor and four of four from the line.
A jumper by Cato in the final seconds of the first half left Colby trailing just 31-25.
The Trojans got a three-point basket by Amanda Miller and two free throws Victoria Biddle to pull within a point, 31-30.
Alexander scored for Cloud County, but Colby answered with a basket by Miller.
A 10-0 spurt gave the T-Birds a 43-32 cushion with just over 13 minutes to play.
Colby would get no closer than eight points the rest of the way.
Cloud County pushed the lead to 16 points, 54-38.
The Trojans battled back to within 10 at 55-45 on two free throws by Hutchinson with 4:54 on the clock.
Consecutive threes by Alyssa Steppe put Cloud County back up by 16 points, 61-45.
“Alyssa Steppe came in and hit two big threes that really put the game away,” Erkenbrack said.
Cato led Colby with 12 points.
Hutchinson scored 11 points for the Trojans.
The winner of the game between Cloud County and Northwest Kansas Tech will play the winner of the game between Butler County (29-1) and Colby (2-28) in the Region 6 quarterfinals Wednesday at Koch Arena in Wichita.