BEATRICE, Neb. — Struggling to score against Southeast (Neb.) Community College’s zone defense, the Cloud County Thunderbirds suffered their first loss of the season, 76-63, in the second round of the Rhiannon Memorial Classic on Saturday night.
Southeast opened the game playing man-to-man, and Cloud County jumped out to a quick nine-point lead.
The Storm then switched to a zone, mixing a 2-3 and 3-2, and the T-Birds had a tough time scoring against it.
Cloud County, now 3-1, hit just 23 of 65 field goal attempts for 35 percent and was 4 of 18 from three-point range for 22 percent.
“More than anything else we struggled against their zone,” Cloud County coach Chad Eshbaugh said, “We stood around and looked at it a little bit. We missed some shots, and the next thing you know that zone is pretty good.”
The T-Birds had beaten the Concordia (Neb.) College junior varsity 83-60 in the first round of the tournament on Friday night, and Southeast lost 89-81 to Hesston College.
Cloud County got out to a 19-10 lead on the Storm on Saturday.
Switching to the zone defense, Southeast outscored the T-Birds 20-11 to pull even at 30-30 at halftime.
“It just kind of snowballed on us. We struggled offensively the last half of the first half and the second half,” Eshbaugh said.
Southeast started to pull away in the second half, going up by as many as 16 points.
The Storm scored 46 points over the final 20 minutes to 33 for the T-Birds.
“Early in the game we defended pretty well. Our inability to score affected our defense a little bit. We weren’t as good defensively in the second half,” Eshbaugh said.
Sophomore Ed Dyson hit 6 of 20 field goal attempts and 7 of 10 free throws in scoring 19 points for Cloud County. He also had seven rebounds.
Connor McDaniel finished with 12 points and six rebounds for the T-Birds.
Gerrae Williams scored 11 points, and Marcus Fillyaw added 10 points and five assists.
Delquan Thomas led the way for Southeast with 20 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.
Trey Porter scored 16 points for the Storm.
Jarrod Gamble chipped in 14 points and Josh Roberts scored 13.
Southeast was 25 of 59 from the floor for 42 percent and 17 of 23 from the line for 74 percent.
Cloud County hosts the Bethany College junior varsity at 7:00 Wednesday night.