A short burst of energy in the second half wasn’t enough for the Cloud County Thunderbirds to overcome an otherwise listless performance.
Falling behind Northeast (Neb.) Community College by nine points in the second half, the T-Birds put together a 15-5 spurt to take a one point lead.
Northeast was able to take the hit, and outscore Cloud County 5-1 over the final 2:37 of the game to pull out a 58-55 win Tuesday night in Bryant Gymnasium.
The loss spoiled the home opener for the T-Birds, who had opened the season with two wins in a tournament at Barton County over the weekend.
“We played with very little aggressiveness and very little positive energy all night,” Cloud County coach Brett Erkenbrack said, “We had one burst of energy in the second half, and looked like we were to get going, and just couldn’t sustain it.”
Cloud County led Northeast 33-32 at halftime, and scored the first two points of the second half to go up 35-32.
The T-Birds managed just two field goals over the next 9:35, and were outscored 16-4 by the Hawks in falling behind 48-39.
A basket by Pearlrae Thomas and a three by Aleesha Coulter got Cloud County within four points, 48-44.
Cloud County answered three straight points by Northeast with a three-point play by Jordyn Alexander and a bucket by Jayna Smith, and trailed just 51-49.
Raveen Murray scored on a drive for the Hawks.
Coulter hit another three and Thomas scored inside to give the T-Birds the lead back at 54-53 with 5:16 to play.
Two free throws by Emily Gamble and a follow by Alison Klostergaard put Northeast back up 57-54.
Smith got the T-Birds within two points, 57-55, by making one of two free throws with 1:35 on the clock.
Thomas couldn’t connect on a shot to tie the game, and following a Northeast turnover, Smith missed a jumper.
Cloud County was forced to foul Andrea Johnson with 1.7 seconds on the clock.
Johnson made the first free throw to put the Hawks up 58-55, but missed the second. The T-Birds got the rebound and called timeout with 1.4 seconds remaining.
Raneisha Duncan got off a three-point attempt from just across halfcourt that bounced off the rim, and Northeast escaped with the 58-55 win.
“It is disappointing to play the way we did at home, and I don’t know why we did,” Erkenbrack said, “Sometimes it is how you play the game. I wasn’t at all pleased on how we played the game on either end of the floor.”
Alexander, a 5-11 freshman led Cloud County with 16 points and eight rebounds.
Duncan scored 13 points for the T-Birds.
Cloud County was just 18 of 58 from the field for 31 percent and made 13 of 19 free throws for 68 percent.
Emily Gamble scored 11 points for Northeast.
The Hawks hit 22 of 68 field goal attempts for 32 percent and 13 of 18 free throws for 72 percent.
Cloud County scored the first five points of the game, and that would be the biggest lead by either team in the first half.
There were five lead changes and four ties in the first half.
Trailing 30-29, the T-Birds got baskets by Brittany Stafford and Alexander to grab a 33-30 advantage.
A jumper by Gamble left Northeast trailing 33-32 at halftime.
“I give Northeast all of the credit in the world. They are a good team, but when you allow a team to do whatever it wants on offensive you are going to be in trouble,” Erkenbrack said.
Cloud County will play Neosho Community College at 1 p.m. Friday and Kennedy-King Community College at 1 p.m. Saturday in a two-day Classic at Iowa Western Community College.