Published in the Iola Register on Dec. 9, 2013.

Cloud County scorches Broncos

The weather outside was frightful, but the Cloud County Thunderbirds had no problem heating up.
Cloud County, on a cold and snowy day, shot a sizzling 60 percent (42 of 70) from the field in sliding past the Hastings College junior varsity 97-60 Sunday afernoon in Bryant Gymnasium.
The T-Birds used a 24-10 run over the final 11:01 of the first half to turn a 21-17 lead into a 45-27 advantage, and it was easy sledding after that.
“We had good movement and passed the ball well. We accomplished some things. We got better,” Cloud County coach Brett Erkenbrack said.
It was the final game prior to a long semester break for Cloud County.
The T-Birds are 8-6, and don’t return to action until hosting Central (Neb.) Community College on Jan. 8.
“A month off is tough, but it probably comes at a good time,” Erkenbrack said, “It was good that we were able to send everybody off with a pretty good feeling about ourselves.”
Cloud County had four players score in double figures led by Courtney Fisher with 23 points. She was 11 of 14 from the field and one of two from the free throw line and also had six rebounds and three assists.
Jayna Smith connected on all six of her field goal attempts and three of five free throws in scoring 15 points. She had four rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Missing just one of eight shots from the floor, Jordyn Alexander scored 15 points and grabbed five rebounds.
Alyssa Steppe came off the bench to score 15 points. She made 7 of 10 shots from the field.
Cloud County also got nine points, four rebounds, five assists and three steals from Linda Pagrode. She was four of four from the floor.
Tai Nittler finished with nine points, five rebounds and eight assists.
The T-Birds had 26 assists on the 42 made field goals.
“A big part of that was our guard play was a lot better. Alyssa Steppe had a nice game. Tai Nittler had a good floor game. Linda played better,” Erkenbrack said, We had some nice interior playing. We had some good passing in the open floor. We looked more like our basketball.”
Cloud County couldn’t shake the Broncos in the early going.
Hastings had a 6-2 lead in the first three minutes and then the two teams traded baskets for just over six minutes.
There were five lead changes during that stretch.
Trailing 14-13, the T-Birds got back to back baskets by Alexander to go up 17-14, and would not trail again.
Cloud County was leading 21-17 when Fisher and Smith scored and Steppe poured in nine straight points to make it a 32-17 game.
Hastings would not get closer than 13 points after that, and the T-Birds led 45-27 at halftime.
Cloud County scored the first four points of the second half, four by Fisher, to extend the lead to 51-27.
Leading 52-31, the T-Birds pumped in 10 points in less than three minutes to open up a 62-31 advantage.
Cloud County would lead by as many as 39 points, 88-49, on its way to the lopsided win.
Maria Van Kirk led the way for Hastings with 12 points.
Abby Ortmeier and Haley Gebers scored 10 each for the Broncos.
Hastings finished 25 of 63 from the field for 40 percent and 7 of 11 from the line for 64 percent.