Cloud County’s Marcus Fillyaw did most of his damage distributing the basketball, but his heave of better than 60 feet as time ran out in the first half was the start of a momentum swing that propelled the Thunderbirds to an 86-69 win over Southeast (Neb.) Community College Friday night in Bryant Gymnasium.
Southeast, a 76-63 winner over Cloud County just seven days earlier, had taken a 43-42 lead when Delquan Thomas scored on a drive with two seconds remaining in the first half.
Fillyaw, a freshman point guard who had 16 assists in the game, took the inbounds pass and fired up a shot from nearly three-quarters court that banked in to give the T-birds a 45-43 advantage.
Cloud County then opened the second half with a 16-2 run to open up a 61-45 cushion.
The T-Birds extended the lead to as many as 19 points.
Southeast would get no closer than nine points as Cloud County avenged that earlier loss, and improved to 4-1 on the season.
“It was a big shot because it sent you to the locker room with a lead, but really the momentum was all about defensive adjustment and effort,” Cloud County coach Chad Eshbaugh said.
Cloud County, with 6-9 sophomore Alioune Mboup scoring six of his eight points, got out to a 13-5 lead in the game.
Southeast hung around by knocking down three-point shots.
The Storm hit 8 of 11 threes in the first half.
“I really felt like eight threes in the first half, five of the eight were defended and three were not defended,” Eshbaugh said.
Southeast would tie the game at 32-32 when Trey Porter buried a three with 5:14 to play in the first half.
Rodrick Robinson scored inside, and Cloud County led 34-32.
A jumper by Jordan Brooks, a free throw by Damarius McKeiver and a three by Josh Roberts put Southeast up 38-34.
Cloud County answered with six straight points to reclaim the lead at 40-38.
Roberts connected on one of his six threes to put the Storm back up 41-40. He finished with a game high 24 points.
Cloud County led 42-41 when Isaiah Anaekwe scored with 22 seconds remaining in the half.
The lead changed hands for the third time in 42 seconds on the basket by Thomas.
Fillyaw, who had nine points and five rebounds, then banked in the prayer, and the T-Birds were up 45-43 at halftime.
The second half got off to a slow start.
Neither team would score until Ed Dyson got a steal and dunk 2:15 in.
A layup by Dyson 41 seconds later pushed Cloud County’s lead to 49-43.
Thomas scored for Southeast, but the T-Birds reeled off 12 straight points, six by Marvin Smith, to open up a 61-45 lead.
“I thought we got some early, easy baskets that kind of jumpstarted us the second half,” Eshbaugh said.
Smith, with 14 points, was one of four Cloud County players to score in double figures. He also had 11 rebounds.
The T-Birds pushed the lead to 19 points, 72-53, when Gerrae Williams connected on a three with 9:34 to play.
Williams came off the bench to score a team high 15 points. He also had four assists.
Southeast wouldn’t go away quietly.
The Storm, with Roberts burying three threes, went on a 12-2 spurt to close the gap to 74-65.
Cloud County would outscore Southeast 12-4 over the final 5:19 of the game to secure the win.
“I think human nature says you want to beat a team that has beaten you. Being able to come out and beat a team that had beaten us so recently was good for our guys,” Eshbaugh said.
Dyson came off the bench to score 13 points for the T-Birds.
Robinson finished with 11 points and six rebounds.
“I really liked our balance. I thought Marcus Fillyaw was tremendous at the point. We had a number of different guys contribute inside and out,” Eshbaugh said.
Thomas joined Roberts in double figures for Southeast with 10 points.
Cloud County limited the Storm to 32 percent (19 of 59) shooting.
The T-Birds had a 53-32 rebounding advantage in the game.
Cloud County will play three games in the T-Birds Thanksgiving Classic, hosted by Casper (Wyo.) College.
The T-Birds play Lamar (Colo.) College on Thursday, Casper College on Friday and Raleigh’s Finest on Saturday.