Butler County weathered a late charge by the Cloud County Thunderbirds to notch a 61-54 Jayhawk Conference Western Division victory Wednesday afernoon in Bryant Gymnasium.
Trailing by seven points with just under two minutes to play, Cloud County fought back to within four points, 58-54.
The T-Birds missed three field goal attempts in the final 59 seconds, and Butler County hit three of four free throws to lock up the win.
A short jumper by Sean Osler gave Butler County a 56-49 lead with 2:14 to play in the game.
Marvin Smith hit two free throws just 18 seconds later, then Cloud County trailed just 56-51.
A pair of free throws by Sean Goodwin gave the Grizzlies a 58-51 advanage.
Marcus Fillyaw knocked down a three-point shot to pull the T-Birds within four points, 58-54.
Cloud County got a defensive stop, and had an opportunity to draw even closer, but Smith was unable to finish on a drive, and Butler County pulled down the rebound.
Osler, whoh led all scorers with 21 points, made two free throws with 40 seconds on the clock to put the Grizzlies up 60-54.
Connor McDaniel couldn’t connect on a three-point attempt, but the T-Birds grabbed an offensive rebound.
McDaniel missed another three-point try, and the Grizzlies came away with the ball.
Osler went one of two from the line to make it 61-54 with just 12 seconds to play.
Following a miss by Cloud County, the Grizzlies were able to run out the clock.
“You are disppointed when shots don’t go in, but that is part of the game. As long as you have the right guy taking the shots that is all you can hope for,” Cloud County coach Chad Eshbaugh said, “I was more disappointed with the turnovers.
Cloud County turned the ball over 23 times in the game.
“We played pretty hard, and rebounded well and defended well. It really came down to turnovers,” Eshbaugh said, “To win, especially against a good team, you have got to play well and you have to value the basketball.”
Cloud County falls to 14-14 overall and 5-9 in the Jayhawk West with the loss.
Butler County improves to 22-6 overall and 10-4 in the conference.
The Grizzlies got out to a 10-5 lead to start the game, but the T-Birds put together a 13-2 run to go up 18-12.
Smith, who scored 17 points to lead Cloud County, scored eight of those points. He was five of eight from the field and 7 of 11 from the free throw line.
Butler County responded with an 11-3 spurt to reclaim the lead at 23-21.
Two free throws by Fillyaw and a basket by Emeka Okoronkwo gave Cloud County the lead back at 25-23 with 3:55 remaining in the first half.
Osler, who was four of six from three-point range, hit two threes as Butler County reeled off 10 straight points to go up 33-25 at halftime.
The two teams traded baskets to start the second half, and Cloud County got a free throw by Smith and a steal and a dunk by Gerrae Williams to get within five points, 35-30.
Taking advantage of three Cloud County turnovers, the Grizzlies extended the lead to 43-32.
“I really felt like we did some things that I was really pleased with, but we didn’t get to enjoy the fruits of our labor because we didn’t take care of the basketball,” Eshbaugh said.
Cloud County would get no closer than seven points until making one final push in the last two minutes.
Fillyaw finished with 10 points, five rebounds and six assists for the T-Birds.
Ed Dyson also scored 10 points.
The T-Birds were 19 of 46 from the field for 41 percent and 13 of 19 from the line for 68 percent.
Sean Goodwin hit seven of eight field goal attempts in scoring 18 points for Butler county.
The Grizzlies were 23 of 50 from the floor for 46 percent and 10 of 17 from the line for 59 pecent.
Cloud County plays at Hutchinson on Saturday night, and finishes up the regular season by hosting Barton County next Wednesday.