HUTCHINSON — The sixth-ranked Hutchinson Blue Dragons came out breathing fire in the second half, and it was the Cloud County Thunderbirds who got burned.
Trailing Cloud County 35-30 at halftime, Hutchinson shot 68 percent (17 of 25) from the field, made three of four three-point attempts and 19 of 28 free throws in outscoring the T-Birds 56-41 to post an 86-76 Jayhawk Conference Western Division game Saturday night in the Sports Arena.
Kadeem Allen scored 24 of his 31 points the second half for the Blue Dragons. He hit all six field goal attempts and 11 of 14 free throws.
A.J. Spencer chipped in 13 points over the final 20 minutes, and finished with 19.
“Give Hutchinson credit, they shot 68 percent from the field in the second half. We still gave ourselves some great chances to win despite that. We competed very well,” Cloud County coach Chad Eshbaugh said.
Despite the hot shooting by the Blue Dragons, the T-Birds stayed in the game until the final minute.
Trailing 78-69, Cloud County got a three-point basket by Derek Henry to trim the deficit to 78-72.
A follow by Rozell Nunn put Hutchinson up 80-72 with 1:06 to play.
Marcus Fillyaw scored on a drive, and the T-Birds were again within six points, 80-74.
Connor McDaniel was called for an intentional foul, and a technical foul was called on the Cloud County bench.
Alex Davis hit one of two free throws, and Allen made both technical free throws to extend the lead to 83-74.
The T-Birds could get no closer than the final margin of 10 points after that.
“In the second half, they attempted 28 free throws and we attempted six, but we were still right there at the end,” Eshbaugh said, “We can’t guard them at the line, and 28 to six is a big number.”
Cloud County falls below .500 on the season with the loss at 14-15, and is 5-10 in the Jayhawk West.
The T-Birds finish up the regular season by hosting Barton County on Wednesday night.
Hutchinson, 27-2 overall, is now 13-2 in the conference after a win over Pratt on Sunday. and in first play just ahead of Seward County.
Knocking down four three-point shots, the Blue Dragons got out to a 16-10 lead on the T-Birds.
Cloud County pulled within a point, 21-20, when Gerrae Williams hit a jumper with 9:18 to play in the first half.
Hutchinson scored six straight points, and led 27-20.
The T-Birds then went on a 15-3 sizz to grab a 35-30 halftime lead.
“The first half we executed really well,” Eshbaugh said.
Seven straight points to start the second half gave the Blue Dragons the lead back at 37-35.
Fillyaw hit a three to put Cloud County back up 38-37.
The two teams traded baskets, and the T-Birds led 40-39.
Hutchinson then put together a 19-6 run to open up a 58-46 lead.
It was 60-48 when Hutchinson’s Davis was whistled for a technical foul.
Fillyaw made four straight free throws to close the gap to 60-52.
The lead bounced from eight to 11 points over the next four minutes.
Cloud County got as close as six points, but couldn’t track down the Dragons.
“The second half we didn’t shoot the ball as well. We didn’t shoot it terrible, but we hit the offensive boards,” Eshbaugh said.
Fillyaw had 20 points, seven rebounds and nine assists for Cloud County. He was 7 of 15 from the field and four of four from the free throw line.
Ed Dyson added 18 points and seven rebounds.
McDaniel finished with 13 points and six rebounds.
The T-Birds hit 29 of 71 field goal attempts for 41 percent and 12 of 12 free throws. They had a 41-30 rebounding advantage, and pulled down 19 offensive boards.
“I was proud of the effort,” Eshbaugh said.
D’Von Campbell scored 16 points for Hutchinson and Davis added 12 points.
The Blue Dragons shot 55 percent (28 of 51) from the floor and 64 percent (23 of 36) from the line. They hit 7 of 12 three-point attempts.