Garden City dialed up a wakeup call in the second half, and the Cloud County Thunderbirds were able to answer.
Trailing 50-35, Garden City put together a 15-1 run to pull within a point of Cloud County.
The Thunderbirds, after scoring just three points in over 10 minutes, outscored the Broncbusters 19-7 over the final 6:12 of the game to lock up a 70-57 Jayhawk Conference Western Division win Saturday night in Bryant Gymnasium.
Cloud County looked to be in control of the game, building a 15-point cushion.
Garden City switched to a zone defense, and the T-Birds struggled to score the basketball.
The Broncbusters were able to close the gap to one point, but could never wrestle the lead away from the T-Birds, who snapped a two-game losing skid to improve to 12-7 overall and 3-2 in the Jayhawk West.
“I was proud of the way we responded. They got it down to a one possession game, and we dug our heels in and got it back up. We showed some toughness in doing that,” Cloud County coach Chad Eshbaugh said, “That was something this team needed.”
Garden City, 10-10 overall, falls to 2-4 in Conference play.
On top 39-32, Cloud County opened the second half with a 9-1 spurt to open up a 48-33 advantage when Gerrae Williams hit a three-point shot with 16:51 to play in the game.
Jade Cathey scored inside for Garden City, but Rodrick Robinson hit two free throws for Cloud County, and it was 50-35 with 15:39 on the clock.
A basket by Cathey and a free throw by Frank Agholor pulled the Broncbusters within 12 points, 50-38.
Alioune Mboup made one of two free throws, and the T-Birds led 51-38 with 12:34 to play.
Cloud County would then go 6:22 without scoring against the Garden City zone.
“For the most part it was missed shots. We didn't turn it over much. We were shooting a lot of threes,” Eshbaugh said, “We got some good looks, and we had the right guys shooting them. The zone got us standing around a little bit.”
The Broncbusters rattled off 12 straight points during that stretch, and trailed just 51-50 when Deandre Henson completed a three-point play.
Cloud County finally ended the run when Marvin Smith scored inside to make it 53-50 with 6:12 to play in the game.
Terry Webb made one of two free throws for Garden City.
Ed Dyson hit a 16-foot jumper, and two possessions later, snuck in behind the Broncbuster zone and threw down a dunk off a lob pass to put the T-Birds up 57-51.
Henson hit a three for Garden City, but Marcus Fillyaw answered with one of his own, and it was 60-54.
Making one of two free throws, Cathey got Garden City within five points, 60-55.
Fillyaw scored on a drive, Mboup made two free throws and Isaiah Anaekwe got a dunk to extend the lead to 66-55, and the T-Birds were on their way to the win.
“I really liked the way we played. I thought defensively we limited easy looks for them out of their sets. For the most part offensively we moved the ball well and we did a good job rebounding on the boards. I was pleased with a lot of the things I saw,” Eshbaugh said.
Dyson led the way for Cloud County with 18 points. He was 5 of 13 from the field and seven of seven from the free throw line, and had five rebounds.
Fillyaw finished with 14 points and seven assists.
Williams scored 10 points and grabbed five rebounds.
Mboup grabbed 13 rebounds to go with eight points.
Cloud County was 23 of 58 from the field for 40 percent and 18 of 24 from the line for 75 percent.
The T-Birds had a 51-34 rebounding advantage.
Cathey paced Garden City with 14 points.
Reuben King scored 14 points, and Chris Hall added 12 points.
Williams hit a three 23 seconds into the game, and Cloud County never trailed.
The T-Birds were up by as many as 12 points in the first half.
Down 34-23, Garden City scored nine straight points to get within two, 34-32.
A three by Fillyaw and two free throws by Dyson gave the T-Birds a 39-32 cushion at halftime.
Outscoring the Broncbusters 11-3 in the first 4:21 of the second half, the T-Birds pushed the lead to 50-35.
Switching to the zone defense, Garden City slowed down Cloud County and got back into the game, but could never take the lead.
The T-Birds will play at Butler County on Wednesday night, and then host unbeaten and number one ranked Hutchinson on Saturday.