T-birds ousted by Hutchinson

HUTCHINSON — Cloud County had the Hutchinson Blue Dragons doing what they wanted them to do.
Hutchinson just did it better than expected.
Cloud County wanted to force the Blue Dragons to shoot from outside, and keep the ball out of the paint, and they responded by knocking down 7 of 10 three-point attempts while outscoring the T-Birds 50-35 in the second half of an 82-64 victory in the quarterfinals of the Region 6 Men’s Basketball Tournament Tuesday night in the Sports Arena.
Hutchinson, a team shooting under 32 percent from three-point range on the season, was just one of five in the first half, but got four treys by A.J. Spencer, two by D’Von Campbell and one by Kadeem Allen in the big second half.
Cloud County trailed just 32-29 at halftime, but couldn’t keep pace with the hot shooting Blue Dragons over the final 20 minutes.
“I thought our game plan was good. We executed it well in the first half. To their credit, they played very well,” Cloud County coach Chad Eshbaugh said, “They are second to last in the region in three-point shooting, and they made seven threes in the second half. We took a calculated risk on where their shots would come from.”
Cloud County finishes the season at 15-17 with the loss.
Ninth-ranked Hutchinson (29-3) advances to the semifinals, and will play second-ranked Coffeyville (31-1) at 7:30 Friday night at Hartman Arena in Park City.
Coffeyville was an 81-70 winner over Butler County.
Seward County knocked off Independence and Barton County defeated Cowley, 75-68.
Barton County (27-5) will play Seward County (25-7) in the other semifinal.
With Alioune Mboup scoring six points, the T-Birds jumped out to a 10-2 lead on Hutchinson in the first four minutes.
The Dragons got a three-point play by Rozell Nunn, and Ed Dyson made a layup for Cloud County, and it was a 12-5 game.
Hutchinson then rattled off nine straight points to grab its first lead at 14-12.
There would be five lead changes over the next four minutes.
The T-Birds were trailing 21-20 when Gerrae Williams buried a three to put them back on top, 23-21.
Cloud County would then commit three straight turnovers, and the Blue Dragons scored on three straight possessions to reclaim the lead at 27-23.
The T-Birds had 11 of their 20 turnovers in the first half.
“If you are going to beat a quality team on the road you have to get a quality shot every time down, and we turned it over, and a lot of those were unforced,” Eshbaugh said.
The two teams traded baskets down the stretch in the first half.
Allen made one of two free throws with three seconds on the clock, and Hutchinson was up 32-29.
It was a 34-31 Hutchinson lead early in the second half when a three by Williams pulled Cloud County even at 34-34.
Williams was 7 of 10 from the field in scoring 16 points for the T-Birds.
A three by Allen, two free throws by Alex Davis and a basket by Campbell put Hutchinson up 41-34.
The Blue Dragons led 50-41 when Spencer hit back to back threes to make it 56-41.
Spencer was four of four from three-point range, and scored 20 of his game high 25 points in the second half.
Dyson, who led Cloud County with 17 points, connected on a three. He was 6 of 11 from the floor and four of four from the line, and had five rebounds and five assists.
Nunn scored for Hutchinson, but the T-Birds got two straight threes by Connor McDaniel, and trailed just 58-50 with 8:20 to play.
Hutchinson was leading 62-54, when Spencer buried another three.
Marvin Smith scored inside for Cloud County, but Spencer answered with another triple, the Blue Dragons were up 68-56.
With Cloud County scrambling and trapping on defense in attempt to create turnovers to get back in the game, Hutchinson got some easy baskets, and pulled away for the win.
“That style wasn’t really the style we wanted to play. You can choose to try to keep the game close or you can choose to try and win, and we chose to try to win it,” Eshbaugh said.
McDaniel scored 10 points for Cloud County.
The T-Birds hit 26 of 59 field goal attempts for 44 percent and seven of eight free throws for 88 percent.
Davis finished with 21 points and eight rebounds for Hutchinson. Allen had 15 points and Campbell added 12.
The Blue Dragons shot 58 percent (18 of 31) from the floor in the second half, and finished 31 of 60 fro 52 percent. They were 12 of 17 from the line for 71 percent.

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