Sophomores fire T-Birds past Saints

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 Cloud County Community College sophomores Jordyn Alexander and Jayna Smith did everything they could to make sure a game against 16th-ranked Seward County would not be the last home game they played.
With Cloud County battling for a top four finish in the Jayhawk Conference Western Division, and a home game in the Region 6 playoffs, Alexander and Smith combined for 56 points and 17 rebounds to lead the Thunderbirds to a 79-71 victory over Seward County Saturday night in Bryant Gymnasium.
Alexander hit 10 of 12 field goal attempts and all eight of her free throws in scoring 30 points, and also grabbed 10 rebounds.
Smith finished with 26 points, 17 rebounds and five assists. She was 12 of 19 from the floor, including two of four from three-point range.
Cloud County, 16-12 overall, improves to 7-6 in the Jayhawk West, and tied for third place with Pratt and Garden City.
“It looked like we had two people for sure who didn’t want this to be their last game at home,” Cloud County coach Brett Erkenbrack said, “What a couple of performances by Jayna Smith and Jordyn Alexander. We needed every bit of it. Hopefully we can just ride those two out.”
Cloud County will finish off the regular season at Colby, winless in the Conference, on Wednesday night.
Garden City plays at Barton County and Pratt plays at Seward.
“This doesn’t guarantee anything for us. We had to win to have a chance at a home game, and we have to win at Colby, and it still doesn’t guarantee anything.”
Seward County, 24-5 overall, falls to 9-4 in the Conference.
After Seward County got out to a 5-0 lead, Alexander and Smith took over.
The two sophomores combined for 25 points during a 27-8 run by the Thunderbirds that gave them a 27-13 lead.
Seward County shot themselves back into the game by knocking down three-point shots.
The Saints were 6 of 17 from three-point range in the first 20 minutes.
“Seward has a lot of weapons,” Erkenbrack said.
Seward County connected on five of those threes in battling back to within two points on a follow by Payton Fleming with 39 seconds to play in the first half.
Smith scored inside 24 seconds later, and Cloud County took a 43-39 lead into halftime.
The T-Birds led 47-42 when the Saints got consecutive three-point plays by Kyndal Davis and Fabiana Monte to reclaim the lead at 48-47.
Smith hit a jumper, but Seward County answered with a three by Rebekah Hatchard to go up 51-49.
A three by Alyssa Steppe and a basket by Smith gave Cloud County the lead back at 54-51.
Hatchard scored on a drive, and the Saints trailed just 54-53.
Tai Nittler and Alexander buried consecutive threes to start a 14-0 surge by the T-Birds that gave them their biggest lead at 68-53 with just over nine minutes to play.
Seward County fought back to within four points, 75-71, when Shanise Brooks scored off an offensive rebound with 42 seconds to play in the game.
Alexander and Linda Pagrode made two free throws each to lock up the win for the T-Birds.
“We got just enough out of the rest of them when we had to have it. This was a must win situation for us,” Erkenbrack said.
Cloud County hit 26 of 53 field goal attempts for 49 percent and 21 of 32 free throws for 66 percent.
Hatchard led Seward County with 17 points.
Monte added 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Brooks scored 15 points.
The Saints put up 35 three-point attempts and made nine for 26 percent, and were 12 of 14 from the line for 86 percent.

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