CASPER, Wyo. — The Cloud County Community College Thunderbirds had some business to take care of before celebrating Thanksgiving.
Shaking off a slow start, and surviving a late surge by Lamar Community College, the T-Birds slipped past the Runnin’ Lopes 63-60 in the opening round of the T-Bird Thanksgiving Classic hosted by Casper College.
Cloud County fell behind 12-2 in the first 5:25 of the game, but battled back to lead by as many as seven points.
Lamar trimmed a six-point deficit to just one point in the final seconds.
Cloud County got a pair of free throws by Marcus Fillyaw with nine seconds on the clock to go up 63-60.
Lamar’s Preston Rayburn missed a three-point attempt with one second to play that would have tied the game.
In the other game played on Thursday, Casper blasted Raleigh’s Finest, 123-76.
Cloud County (6-1) will play Casper College tonight and Raleigh’s Finest on Saturday.
Matt Sheriff knocked down a pair of three-point shots as Lamar got out to an 8-0 lead on Cloud County.
Ed Dyson put the first points on the board for the T-Birds 4:40 into the game.
Trailing 17-7, the T-Birds went on an 18-3 run to take a 25-20 advantage when Rodrick Robinson scored with 5:50 to play in the first half.
Gerrae Williams and Connor McDaniel hit three-point shots during the spurt.
Lamar outscored Cloud County 8-4 over the final 5:13 of the half, and trailed just 29-28.
Baskets by Alioune Mboup and Fillyaw and two free throws by Dyson gave Cloud County its biggest lead of the game, 35-28, 2:14 into the second half.
The Runnin’ Lopes chipped away at the deficit, and tied the game at 49-49 when Rayburn made one of two free throws with 8:08 to play.
Cloud County got buckets by Robinson and McDaniel and two free throws by Dyson to go up 55-49 with 6:14 on the clock.
Lamar knocked down three of four free throws to close the gap to 55-52.
A three-point basket by McDaniel gave the T-Birds a 58-52 cushion with 3:57 on the clock.
Rayburn completed a three-point play and Trevon Seymore scored to pull Lamar within a point, 58-57.
Dyson and Robinson each made one of two free throws, and the T-Birds led 60-57 with 2:02 on the clock.
The two teams combined for four turnovers over the next 52 seconds.
Seymore missed a three-point attempt that would have tied the game.
Williams was fouled with 21 seconds left. He missed the first free throw but made the second to give Cloud County a 61-57 lead.
Rayburn pulled Lamar within a point, 61-60, with a three-point basket with 10 seconds left.
Fillyaw was fouled just one second later. The freshman point guard made both free throws.
Rayburn’s three-point attempt to tie the game with one second remaining was off the mark.
Dyson led four T-Birds in double figures with 15 points. He was 5 of 13 from the field and five of seven from the free throw line and had seven rebounds.
Williams knocked down three of five three-point attempts in scoring 14 points. He grabbed six rebounds.
McDaniel chipped in 10 points and nine rebounds.
Fillyaw finished with 10 points and five rebounds.
Cloud County connected on 22 of 56 field goal attempts for 39 percent and 13 of 23 free throws for 57 percent.
Rayburn and Seymore scored 12 points each for Lamar. Sheriff added 10 points.
The Runnin’ Lopes were 17 of 61 from the floor for 28 percent and 21 of 31 from the line for 68 percent.