GREAT BEND — Three-point shooting gave Barton County a lead on Cloud County, and free throw shooting preserved it.
Barton County shot a sizzling 70 percent, 14 of 20, from three-point range in the Jayhawk Conference Western Division matchup, but connected on just four of their first 13 free throw attempts.
Leading just 75-72 with just over two minutes to play, the Cougars knocked down 9 of 10 free throws to lock up an 84-74 victory over the Thunderbirds Saturday night.
Barton County went into the game shooting just 29.3 percent from three-point range, but connected on 8 of 13 attempts in the first half and six of seven in the second.
“I thought the guys executed the game plan pretty well. We did a good job of keeping them out of transition most of the game. We didn’t allow them to establish number 31 (Raheem Johnson) in the post. To their credit they had a bunch of guys stop and make a bunch of threes,” Cloud County coach Chad Eshbaugh said.
Cloud County did not lead for the final 31 minutes of the game, but kept it close despite the three-point barrage by the Cougars.
“Under the circumstances, their making shots, deep shots, I thought we did a good job of hanging around and giving ourselves a chance to win,” Eshbaugh said.
The T-Birds, now 11-13 overall and 3-5 in the Jayhawk West, were down 73-63 when Tyler Corley scored on a drive with 4:36 to play.
Barton County’s Raheem Johnson was whistled for a foul on Marvin Smith with 3:23 on the clock. He then drew a technical foul.
Shaun Stewart made the two technical free throws and Smith knocked down two free throws to make it a 73-67 game.
Barton County, 18-7 overall and 6-3 in the Conference, got a follow by Corley to go up 75-67.
Stewart buried a three and Lorenzo Dillard made two free throws to get Cloud County within three points, 75-72, with 2:07 remaining.
Corley made two free throws for Barton County.
Smith drew a foul, and went two of two from the line to close the gap to 77-74 with 1:37 left.
Cloud County would not score again as the Cougars made seven of eight free throws in a span of 52 seconds to get the win.
“It was a one possession game with under two to play. There was a tough call, Lorenzo made a nice steal, but the officials called it a foul. Instead of a one possession game with us having the ball, they hit two free throws and it is two possessions,” Eshbaugh said.
Stewart topped the 30-point mark for the third time in the last five games in leading Cloud County with 31 points. He was 9 of 15 from the field, including four of seven from three-point range, and nine of nine from the line.
Dillard finished with 19 points, five assists, four rebounds and four assists.
Cloud County shot just 36 percent (21 of 59) from the floor, but made 25 of 33 free throws for 76 percent.
“We didn’t shoot it great, but we didn’t take as good a shots as we had been taking,” Eshbaugh said.
Deriece Parks, averaging just 7.8 points per game, hit 8 of 10 three-point attempts in scoring 26 points for Barton County.
Corley had 18 points and six assists.
Trey Unrau made three of four threes, and scored 11 points.
Johnson added 10 points.
The Cougars were 27 of 55 from the field for 49 percent and 16 of 26 from the line for 62 percent.
With Stewart scoring seven points, Cloud County got out to a 9-5 lead.
Parks hit two threes and Christian Smith made one during an 11-0 Barton County run that put the Cougars up,16-9.
Barton County led by as many as 12 points, 32-20, in the first half.
A three by Dillard, a jumper by Stewart and a basket by Emeka Okoronkwo pulled the T-Birds within five points, 32-27.
Cloud County trailed 34-27 at halftime.
The T-Birds whittled away at the deficit, and tied the game when Stewart scored to make it 46-46.
A follow dunk by Johnson and a three by Corley put Barton County on top to stay, 51-46.
Cloud County got as close as two points, 57-55, but couldn’t overtake the Cougars.
The T-Birds will host Pratt in a makeup game tonight, and then host Dodge City on Wednesday night.