Published in the Iola Register on Nov. 25, 2013.

T-Birds bounce back with win

MIDLAND, Texas — Bouncing back from a lopsided loss in the semifinals on Friday, the Cloud County Thunderbirds held on to defeat 18th-ranked Midland College 76-74 in the third-place game of the Women’s Invitational Tournament on Saturday.
Cloud County was beaten 76-44 by fourth-ranked Chipola (Fla.) College in the semifinals.
Chipola went on to beat top-ranked Trinity Valley (Texas) College in the championship game on Saturday.
Leading by as many as 10 points in the second half, the T-Birds had to survive a late charge by Midland.
The Chaps (7-5) closed the gap to two points, 73-71, on a layup by Catherine Kruschke with under a minute to play.
Freshman Tai Nittler made two free throws with 12 seconds remaining in the game to give Cloud County a 75-71 advantage.
Midland got a three-point basket by Gabriela Martins less than four seconds later to get within a point, 75-74.
Jordyn Alexander was fouled with six seconds on the clock.
Alexander made one of two free throws to put the T-Birds up 76-74.
Tanjanay Veiga’s long three-point attempt as time ran out was off line, and Cloud County escaped with the win to improve to 6-4.
“It was a really big win for us in a lot of ways. To go down there and win two games is a huge accomplishment for anybody. To beat able to bounce back and beat a good Midland team on their home floor after getting it handed to us the night before, I am really proud of our character and resolve,” Cloud County coach Brett Erkenbrack said.
Alexander hit 8 of 13 field goal attempts and six of eight free throws to score 24 points for the T-Birds. She also had 10 rebounds.
“Jordyn had a good game. She had a good tournament,” Erkenbrack said.
Courtney Fisher finished with 17 points for Cloud County. She was six of nine from the floor and five of seven from the line.
Raneisha Duncan scored 11 points for the T-Birds, and Nittler added 10 points.
“Courtney Fisher made some big plays and Raneisha Duncan hit a couple of big threes,” Erkenbrack said.
Midland had four players score in double figures led by Ellyn Avery with 13 points.
Kruschke and Mary Savoy scored 12 points each for the Chaps, and Diamalises Rivera chipped in 10.
Cloud County had a slim 34-33 lead at halftime.
Midland would go up by three points early in the second, but a spurt by the T-Birds gave them the 10-point cushion.
The Chaps closed to within one, but couldn't overtake the T-Birds.
“I don't think we played great, but we competed and made plays and that is something we haven't consistently done throughout the season,” Erkenbrack said.
Chipola won the tournament title by defeating Trinity Valley, 72-60.
Second-ranked Central Arizona downed Angelina (Texas) College 95-66 in the fifth-place game.
Odessa (Texas) College beat Salt Lake Community College 74-62 in the seventh-place game.