PARSONS — Eight teams hit the road in the opening round of the Region 6 Men’s Basketball Tournament, and the Cloud County Thunderbirds were the only one to survive the trip.
Cloud County, the sixth place team out of the Jayhawk Conference Western Division, knocked off Labette Community College, the third place team out of the Jayhawk East, 54-50 in the first round of the tournament on Saturday night.
The Thunderbirds halted a string of seven consecutive road losses, and will advance to the second round of the tournament.
“It is hard in this League to win on the road,” Cloud County coach Chad Eshbaugh said, “I was really proud of our guys. I thought they showed some real determination and fight throughout the game.”
Cloud County (15-16) will play at fifth-ranked Hutchinson (28-3) at 7:00 Tuesday night.
In the new format this season, the higher seeded teams host games in the first two rounds.
The semifinals and championship game will be played Friday and Saturday at the Hartman Arena in Park City.
Hutchinson got past Northwest Kansas Tech 90-82 in the first round.
In the other first-round games:
Seward County defeated Colby 88-70, Independence defeated Dodge City 83-68, Barton County defeated Allen 93-61, Cowley defeated Pratt 67-49, Butler County defeated Neosho County 90-67 and Coffeyville defeated Garden City 92-70.
Seward County (24-7) hosts Independence (17-14), Cowley (21-10) hosts Barton County (26-5) and Coffeyville (30-1) hosts Butler County (24-7) in the second round.
Cloud County and Labette (16-16) were locked up in a tight battle throughout the contest.
“It was a one possession game for the vast majority of the last 30 minutes,” Eshbaugh said.
Despite shooting just 29 percent (10 of 34) from the field, the T-Birds led the Cardinals 27-26 at halftime.
Labette was 10 of 28 from the floor for 36 percent.
Cloud County led by three points with a little more than a minute to play.
A three-point basket by Labette tied the game.
Marcus Fillyaw was fouled on the inbounds play. The freshman missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunity, but Connor McDaniel grabbed the offensive rebound.
McDaniel of Cloud County had 13 offensive rebounds in the game.
“Connor McDaniel had some huge rebounds down the stretch,” Eshbaugh said.Fillyaw, who finished with seven assists, fed Alioune Mboup for a short jumper to put the T-Birds up by two points.
Cloud County got a defensive stop, and Fillyaw was fouled again.
Fillyaw missed the front end once again, and McDaniel grabbed the offensive board.
McDaniel scored off an assist from Fillyaw to give Cloud County a four-point advantage.
The T-Birds were able to hold off the Cardinals the rest of the way to move on in the tournament.
Fillyaw scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds for Cloud County.
“Marcus Fillyaw was good, maybe as good as he has been all year as far as being determined to win,” Eshbaugh said.
Ed Dyson finished with 11 points and eight rebounds for the T-Birds.
Mboup and Marvin Smith scored seven points each.
Cloud County was 20 of 58 from the field for 34 percent and 11 of 18 from the line for 61 percent.
Labette hit 18 of 57 field goal attempts for 32 percent and 10 of 15 free throws for 67 percent.
Cloud County will now play a Hutchinson team it has lost twice to this season.
The T-Birds fell 74-55 at home and 86-76 at Hutchinson during the regular season.
“This is a team that is very, very talented. They have beaten us twice. They are at home and all of the pressure will be on their shoulders,” Eshbaugh said, “I think if we relax and can play with the same determination we played with at Labette it could make for a very interesting Tuesday night.”