GREAT BEND — Go down the list of things they needed to accomplish to defeat 19th-ranked Barton County on the road, and the Cloud County Thunderbirds accomplished most of them.
Cloud County gave up just 60 points to the highest scoring team (83.3) in the Jayhawk Conference Western Division.
The T-Birds outrebounded Barton County 45-40, and limited the Cougars to just 36 percent shooting from the field.
What the T-Birds were unable to do was knock down shots. They finished just 13 of 54 from the field, including 3 of 13 from three-point range, in suffering a 60-41 loss to Barton County Wednesday night.
“We talked about all of the things you have to do to win, and really we did all of them,” Cloud County coach Chad Eshbaugh said, “I thought we were good defensively most of the night. We outrebounded a good rebounding team. I thought our effort was good.”
It was the third consecutive loss for the T-Birds, and they have not shot over 36 percent in any of those three games.
“We are really fighting our confidence shooting the ball right now,” Eshbaugh said, “We are in a stretch of three where we have struggled to make shots, easy shots, hard shots, free throws.”
Cloud County, 12-10 overall, dropped to 3-5 in the Jayhawk West with the loss.
The T-Birds have averaged just 51 points in those five losses.
“A lot of it right now is mental. They are putting a lot of pressure on themselves,” Eshbaugh said.
Barton County improved to 19-3 overall and 6-2 in the Conference.
Trailing 9-5, Cloud County went 7:48 without scoring as the Cougars went on a 13-0 run to open up a 22-5 advantage.
The T-Birds missed five shots, including two layups, and committed seven turnovers during that stretch.
Two free throws by Ed Dyson with 8:06 to play in the first half ended the drought, and made it a 22-7 game.
Trailing 28-13 late in the half, the T-Birds shot themselves back into the game.
Gerrae Williams hit a three, Dyson came up with a steal and Williams got a layup on the other end to close the gap to 28-18.
Rodrick Robinson drew a foul. He made the first free throw, but missed the second.
Dyson grabbed the offensive rebound and Williams buried another three.
A basket by Dyson got Cloud County within four points, 28-24, with 54 seconds remaining in the half.
Barton County scored the first point of the second half when Turon Parker made one of two free throws.
A three-point play by Williams made it a 29-27 game with 18:25 on the clock.
“I was pleased with the way we withstood their run in the first half and got back in it,” Eshbaugh said.
Barton County then heated up.
A free throw by Andell Cumberbatch and a layup by Algie Key upped Barton County’s lead to 32-27.
Marcus Fillyaw knocked down a jumper, and the T-Birds trailed just 32-29.
Knocking down three threes and a short jumper by Key, Barton County scored 11 points in just over two minutes, and led 43-29.
A basket by Alioune Mboup briefly halted the Cougar run.
Shaka Thomas hit another three, and Parker went one of two from the free throw line, and the Barton County lead was 47-31.
Layups by James Williams and Marvin Smith got Cloud County within 14 points, 49-35, with 9:14 to play.
That is as close as the T-Birds would get.
“You can’t miss the shots we are missing for long stretches and hope to survive,” Eshbaugh said.
Dyson led Cloud County with 15 points. He also had seven rebounds.
Gerrae Williams finished with 13 points and five rebounds.
James Williams pulled down 12 rebounds.
Parker scored 15 points for Barton County.
Cumberbatch and Key added 13 points each.
Cloud County plays a second straight road game at Colby on Saturday night.