Published in the Iola Register on Feb. 28, 2013.

Cloud County men unable to keep pace with Cougars

Barton County kept knocking down shots, and the Cloud County Thunderbirds were unable to keep pace.
The Cougars connected on 28 of 56 field goal attempts, including 12 of 19 three-point attempts for 63 percent, on their way to a 79-57 Jayhawk Conference Western Division win over the T-Birds Wednesday night in Bryant Gymnasium.
Barton County was a blistering 8 of 11 from three-point range in the first half, but Cloud County was able to hang around by making 6 of 13 threes for 46 percent.
The T-Birds cooled off in the second half, knocking down just 8 of 29 shots from the floor for 28 percent. They were 2 of 13 from three-point range.
“To their credit they made shots. We just struggled to get consecutive stops,” Cloud County coach Chad Eshbaugh said.
With the loss in the final game of the regular season, Cloud County dropped to 14-16 overall and 5-11 in the Jayhawk West.
The T-Birds will be on the road for the first round of the Region 6 playoffs at either Labette County or Independence on Saturday night.
“Everybody is zero and zero. Nobody has an advantage on anybody else,” Eshbaugh said, “Say what you want about seedings, but only one team wins this Conference. You are going to have to play everybody.”
Barton County, 25-5 overall, finished up 12-4 and in third place in the West.
The Cougars will host a first-round game in the playoffs.
Seward County (14-2) won the Conference title. Hutchinson finished second (13-3).
Barton County, with three-point baskets by Andell Cumberbatch and Kevin Kuteyi, got out to a 12-3 lead on Cloud County.
Cloud County got a dunk Ed Dyson off a  lob, a free throw by Dyson and consecutive threes by Connor McDaniel and Gerrae Williams to pull even at 12-12.
Kuteyi hit two more threes and scored 10 points during a 17-9 Barton County run that made it a 29-21 game. He finished with 18 points.
Dyson hit a three for Cloud County, but Cumberbatch answered with a triple.
Five straight points by Dyson closed the gap to 32-29.
Algie Key scored on a drive, and the Cougars led 34-29 with 6:39 to play in the first half.
Cloud County had chances to draw closer, but missed four straight free throws, including the front end of two one-and-one opportunities.
The T-Birds finished just 11 of 24 from the line for 46 percent.
“We went to the line a ton and didn’t get anything out of it. Counting the front end of one-and-ones, I had us 11 of 29. Those are empty possessions when you don’t make foul shots. It is an unguarded 15-foot shot,” Eshbaugh said.
Trailing 40-31, the T-Birds got one free throw by Isaiah Anaekwe and two by James Williams to pull within six points, 40-34.
Trey Unrau hit a three and Key scored on a drive to put Barton County up 45-36 at halftime.
Unrau came off the bench to connect on five of six three-point attempts for 15 points.
Cloud County scored the first five points of the second half on a baseline jumper by McDaniel and a three by Dyson, and trailed just 45-39.
Dyson led Cloud County with 19 points, five rebounds and five assists.
Barton County then started to pull away.
A 12-5 run made it a 57-44 game.
Cloud County cut the deficit to 10 points, 61-51, with under nine minutes to play.
Raheem Johnson scored inside, Unrau buried a three and Cumberbatch followed up a miss, and the Cougars led 68-41.
“They have a lot of fire power. They have four or five different guys who are very capable of shooting it and scoring,” Eshbaugh said.
Cloud County got as close as 14 points, 68-54, on a three-point play by James Williams with 4:49 to play.
Barton County scored the next eight points to go up 76-54.
“It was disappointing for our sophomores,” Eshbaugh said of the loss in the final home game, “They are good kids, but that has kind of been par for the course. They are very nice guys, but nice guys still have to have a will to win.”
Gerrae Williams scored 12 points and grabbed five rebounds for the T-Birds.
McDaniel finished with 10 points.
Cumberbatch scored 14 points for Barton County, and Key added 12 points.