Cloud County allowed a lead to slip away in regulation play, but wouldn't let it happen again in overtime.
The Thundebirds were leading Garden City Community College by five points, 61-56. when Shaun Stewart made a layup with 2:03 remaining in the second half.
The Broncbusters, aided by a Cloud County turnover, scored five straight points to tie the game at 61-61, and force overtime.
Cloud County got out to a 71-63 lead in the extra period, and despite the Broncbusters knocking down two three-point shots late, held on for a 76-69 Jayhawk Conference Western Division victory Saturday night in Bryant Gymnasium.
“I liked the fact that we were able to win a close game. We have had a ton of them this year,” Cloud County coach Chad Eshbaugh said, “I would have been easy for those guys to say 'oh no here go.' I thought they did a really good job of stepping up and getting it done.”
Cloud County, now 10-11 overall and 2-3 in the Jayhawk West, grabbed the lead late in the first half and did not relinquish it in the second half.
Garden City, 16-5 overall and 2-3 in the conference, would get a basket by Jalen Variste to trim the five-point deficit to three points, 61-58, with 1:31 to play in regulation.
The Broncbusters then forced a Cloud County turnover, and Reuben King hit a three to tie the game at 61-61.
Cloud County had the ball with an opportunity for win the game, but turned it over with 7.9 seconds on the clock.
Variste drove to the basket, but had his shot blocked out of bounds with :00.3.
The Broncbusters got the ball inbounds to Jeremy Wilson, but he was unable to get a shot off in time, and the game went to overtime.
Cloud County scored first in the extra period when Lorenzo Dillard went one of two from the free throw line.
King hit from 18 feet, and Garden City led 63-62.
Holding the Broncbusters scoreless for better than three minutes, the T-Birds got a jumper by Stewart, two free throws each by Marvin Smith and Dillard and a three-point play by Stewart to open up a 71-63 lead.
Stewart, a sophomore guard, poured in a season-high 37 points. He was 12 of 17, including five of six from three-point range, and eight of nine from the line and also had 11 rebounds.
“Shaun had a great game. He really shot the ball well. He made some big shots for us. He is capable offensively. Every now and then you have one of those nights when you are really feeling it, and I think that was one of those nights for him,” Eshbaugh said.
King, who led Garden City with 16 points, hit a three, and it was 71-66 with 50 seconds to play.
Stewart made three of four free throws in a span of 12 seconds, and Cloud County was up 74-66.
Wilson hit a three to make it 74-69 with 15 seconds left, but that is as close as the Broncbusters would get.
Cloud County hit 10 of 13 free throws in the overtime.
“If you are going to be a good free throw shooting team late in games the key is having the right guys shooting free throws. Lorenzo and Shaun did a great job of knocking them down. Marvin hit a couple of big ones,” Eshbaugh said.
Dillard was 6 of 13 from the floor and 8 of 11 from the line in scoring 21 points for Cloud County. The freshman guard had eight rebounds.
Wilson scored 14 points for Garden City.
There were 10 lead changes in the first 14 minutes of the game.
Six straight points by Dillard put Cloud County up 25-23.
June Johnson hit a three for Garden City, but Dillard answered with a basket to make it 27-26.
A layup by Emeke Okoronkwo and a free throw by Assane Diop gave Cloud County a 30-26 lead.
The T-Birds would open up a 37-29 advantage, but King hit a three as time ran out in the first half to get Garden City within five points, 37-32.
The Broncbusters would get within a point in the second half, but couldn't wrestle the lead away from the T-Birds.
With Stewart leading the way, the T-Birds would go up by as many as eight points.
Garden City was able to battle back and force overtime, but couldn't wipe out a seven point deficit in the extra period.
Cloud County plays at Seward County on Wednesday night.