LIBERAL — Some losses hurt more than others, and the Cloud County Thunderbirds' 80-66 setback to ninth-ranked Seward County was extremely painful.
Not only did the T-Birds, now 12-9 overall, fall to 3-3 in the Jayhawk Conference Western Division with the loss, they also lost their two leading scorers and rebounders to injury.
Jordyn Alexander, who averages 17.6 points and 8.3 rebounds per game for Cloud County, went down with ankle injury with 8:50 to play in the first half, and did not return. Her status for the T-Birds' home game against Colby on Saturday night is uncertain.
Courtney Fisher, 13.9 points and 7.5 rebounds, suffered what is believed to be a torn ACL early in the second half.
“We will just have to wait and see,” Cloud County coach Brett Erkenbrack said of the injuries, “We just have to regroup. There is not any time to feel sorry for ourselves. The circumstances are what they are. Injuries and illness can't be helped. We just have to deal with it.”
Alexander and Fisher combined for just three points and two rebounds, but Cloud County would keep the game close until the final seven minutes.
Cloud County was down just 65-59 when Linda Pagrode made two free throws with 7:40 remaining in the game.
Fabiana Monte scored eight points in less than two minutes to extend Seward County's lead to 73-59.
“We just had too many turnovers and too many defensive breakdowns. They just killed us with the dribble penetration. We just got out of their way and gave them too many easy shots,” Erkenbrack said.
Raneisha Duncan ended the Seward County run by making two free throws, and it was a 73-61 game.
Shanise Brooks got a steal and a layup to again give the Saints a 14-point cushion, 75-61.
Cloud County could get no closer than 11 points over the final four minutes.
Sophomore Jayna Smith led the way for the T-Birds with 22 points and six rebounds. She was 8 of 14 from the field and five of eight from the free throw line.
“Jayna Smith really battled,” Erkenbrack said.
Duncan, who was four of seven from three-point range, scored 14 points for the T-Birds.
Kimi Lindshield came off the bench to score nine points and grab seven rebounds.
“Kimi Lindshield gave us some really good minutes,” Erkenbrack said.
Cloud County finished 21 of 56 from the field for 38 percent and 16 of 25 from the line for 64 percent.
The T-Birds were outrebounded 41-27.
Monte led four Seward County players in double figures with 21 points.
Alana Simon scored 19 points for the Saints. Brianna Scott finished with 111 and Kyndal Davis added 10.
The Saints, 20-2 overall and 5-1 in the Conference, shot 54 percent (32 of 59) from the floor and 73 percent (11 of 15) from the line.
A three by Smith and two by Duncan got Cloud County out to a 9-2 lead in the game.
Seward County poured in nine straight points to go up 11-9.
Trailing 17-15, the T-Birds got a basket by Alexander, a free throw by Duncan and four points from Smith to reclaim the lead at 20-17.
A three-point shot by Monte and a three-point play by Brooks gave Seward County the lead back at 23-20.
Tai Nittler scored five straight points, and Cloud County led 25-23.
A three by Payton Fleming and a basket by Brooks put the Saints back on top, 28-25.
The T-Birds answered with a baskets by Lindshield and Smith to go up 29-28.
Scoring six straight points, Seward County went on top to stay, 34-29.
The Saints led 39-24 at halftime.
Cloud County would get as close as two points, 57-55, in the second half.
It was a 65-59 game when Seward County pulled away.