Iowa Western stole one from the Cloud County Thunderbirds.
Trailing Cloud County 71-70 with under a minute to play, the Reivers turned a pair of steals into four points in a span of just three seconds that propelled them to a 76-73 victory in the Thunderbird Thanksgiving Classic Sunday afternoon in Bryant Gymnasium.
Cloud County led unbeaten and eighth-ranked Iowa Western 71-67 when Raneisha Duncan scored on a drive with 1:25 to play.
Duncan was fouled, but was unable to convert the free throw.
Bobbi Beckwith pulled Iowa Western within a point, 71-70, when she nailed a three-point shot 14 seconds later.
The Reivers came up with a steal, and Tyisha Smith was fouled with 43 seconds remaining in the game.
Smith hit both free throws to put Iowa Western up 72-71.
The Reivers then came up with a steal on the inbounds pass, and Leah Scott made a layup to extend the lead to 74-71.
Cloud County’s Aleesha Coulter missed a three-point attempt, and the T-Birds grabbed the offensive rebound.
Duncan couldn’t connect on a three to tie the game, and Smith was fouled with 10.7 seconds to play. She again made both free throws to make it a 76-71 game.
Jordyn Alexander scored for the T-Birds with two seconds left.
Iowa Western was able to inbound the ball and run out the clock.
“That has been the pattern. It is hard for us to overcome the mistakes that we make. The pain we inflict upon ourselves,” Cloud County coach Brett Erkenbrack said., “I do believe this, the expectations here are high. My expectations of my teams year in and year out are high. Sometimes that can be burdensome for young people.”
Iowa Western looked as if it was going to shoot Cloud County out of its own gymnasium to start the game.
Knocking down six three-point shots, the Reivers got out to a 28-16 lead.
The Reivers (8-0) would not hit another three in the first half.
With sophomore Paige Champlin scoring eight points, the T-Birds went on a 17-4 run, and took its first lead at 33-32, when Alexander followed up a missed shot with 3:17 to play in the first half.
Iowa Western fought back to take a 37-36 halftime advantage.
“We had a chance to kind of get ourselves blown out in the first half and came back,” Erkenbrack said.
Cloud County (6-4) outscored the Reivers 5-2 in the first 2:31 of the second half to go up 42-39.
Hitting five of six free throws in a span of 58 seconds and then getting a three by Blair Harding, Iowa Western went up 47-42.
Getting seven points from Duncan and four from Alexander, the T-Birds went on an 18-4 spurt to grab a 60-51 advantage with just over eight minutes to play.
“We had a pretty good handle on that game when we were up by nine,” Erkenbrack said.
The Reivers chipped away at the deficit, and made it a 66-64 game when Smith made a three with 3:30 to play.
Each team would go one of two from the free throw line, and Champlin gave Cloud County a 69-65 lead when she scored in the paint with 2:30 left.
Amber McCann followed up an Iowa Western miss, and it was again a two point game, 69-67.
Duncan’s driving layup upped the lead to 71-67, but the T-Birds were unable to hold on.
“It is part of the process of learning how to win games. Hopefully we can learn some lessons,” Erkenbrack said.
Champlin scored 16 points and pulled down eight rebounds for Cloud County.
Duncan finished with 14 points and four rebounds.
Alexander chipped in 12 points and six boards.
Ajai Ford scored 11 points and handed out six assists.
Scott led the way for Iowa Western with 16 points.
McCann and Alise Karlsone scored 15 points each.
Cloud County will host the Doane College junior varsity at 6:00 Thursday night.