Grizzlies fight off T-Birds in Region 6 quarterfinals

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WICHITA — Battling from behind the entire game, the Cloud County Thunderbirds were unable to track down the Butler Community College Grizzlies.
Sixth-ranked Butler got out to a 23-5 lead on Cloud County in the quarterfinals of the Region 6 Basketball Tournament Wednesday afternoon at Koch Arena.
Trailing by as many as 20 points in the second half, the T-Birds rallied to within six points, but could not overtake the Grizzlies in suffering a 76-67 loss.
“Certainly the beginning of the game was exactly what we didn't need to have happen,” Cloud County coach Brett Erkenbrack said
Cloud County finishes the season 18-13.
Butler (31-1) advances to the tournament semifinals, and will take on Barton Community College (20-12) at 1 p.m. Friday.
Barton was 61-56 winner over Seward County.
Third-ranked Hutchinson (30-0) takes on Garden City (18-13) in the other semifinal.
Hutchinson knocked off Independence 70-53, and Garden City rolled past Dodge City, 64-50.
Butler scored the first seven points of the game, and would never trail.
Cloud County was down 11-2 when Raneisha Duncan knocked down the first of her six three-point baskets to make it 11-5.
Duncan came off the bench to lead the T-Birds with 13 points. She was 6 of 11 from three-point range and five of eight from the free throw line.
Butler scored 12 straight points to open up a 23-5 advantage when Ashlee Ivy hit a three with 12:08 to play in the first half.
Cloud County closed the gap to 10 points, 29-19 when Jordyn Alexander completed a three-point play with 4:43 on the clock.
“We had a good stretch there in the middle of the first half to get ourselves back into the game, and then we didn't end the first half well,” Erkenbrack said.
It was a 33-23 game when the Grizzlies went on a 10-3 run to go up 43-26.
Two free throws by Linda Pagrode with under a second remaining in the half left Cloud County trailing 43-28.
Scoring the first five points of the second half, the Grizzlies built their biggest lead at 48-28.
“I think we turned it over our first four or five possessions to start the second half. It was mostly our own doing,” Erkenbrack said, “We just gave away too many offensive possessions.”
The T-Birds would finish with 26 turnovers.
Cloud County would make a run at the Grizzlies.
Scoring 11 unanswered points the T-Birds made it a 48-39 game.
The two teams traded baskets and Te'era Williams made two free throws to put Butler up 52-41.
Jayna Smith scored the next five points, and Cloud County trailed just 52-46 with 9:19 remaining in the game.
Smith finished with 15 points and seven steals.
“We were really outplaying them most of the second half, but once again self-inflicted wounds would stop some of the runs we were on.”
Butler outscored Cloud County 14-4 over the next 5:02, and led 66-50.
It was a 7-54 game when the T-Birds made one final push.
Duncan connected on three threes and four of six free throws in less than two minutes.
Butler missed five of nine free throws during that stretch, and the lead was eight points, 75-67 with 50 seconds on the clock.
Butler's Ashley Gibson missed two free throws, and Cloud County had an opportunity to pull closer.
A three-point attempt by Pagrode was off the mark.
Williams went one of two from the line to give Butler the 76-67 advantage.
“We did keep battling and made a few plays to kind of make it close, but we ran out of gas, ran out of time and ran out of season. So we will try again next year,” Erkenbrack said.
Alexander scored 13 points for the T-Birds.
“We needed to get really good production out of our top five players in that type of game in the playoffs and outside of Jayna (Smith), and Raneisha (Duncan) who shot the ball pretty well, I don't think anybody else played particularly well and that limits our opportunities,” Erkenbrack said.
Cloud County was 21 of 49 from the field for 43 percent and 17 of 20 from the line for 85 percent.
The T-Birds were outrebounded 42-25.
Williams led five Butler County players in double figures with 23 points.
Terryuana Godwin scored 14 points for the Grizzlies.
Teanna Reid tossed in 12 points.
Gibson and Ivy added 11 points each.
Butler was 25 of 57 from the floor for 44 percent and 22 of 34 from the line for 65 percent.

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