T-Birds shoot past Conqs, 72-42

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When the Cloud County Thunderbirds shoot 40 percent or better from the field, they are hard to beat.
Heading into the Jayhawk Conference Western Division matchup with Dodge City, the T-Birds were 12-1 in games in which they had connected on at least 40 percent of their field goal attempts.
Cloud County went 25 of 58 from the floor for 43 percent in rolling past Dodge City 72-42 Wednesday night in Bryant Gymnasium.
The T-Birds are now 5-0 in the Conference when shooting 40 percent or better.
“If we shoot 40 percent from the field we are hard to beat,” Cloud County coach Chad Eshbaugh said, “For the most part we guard most of the time and we rebound most of the time.”
Cloud County improved to 14-12 overall and 5-7 in the Conference with the win.
Dodge City, which had beaten the T-Birds 72-55 in the first meeting, falls to 13-15 overall and 5-8 in the West.
Baskets by Gerrae Williams and Marvin Smith gave Cloud County a 4-0 lead less than a minute into the game.
The T-Birds would not trail.
The game was tied on three occasions in the first 5:40.
It was an 8-8 game when Marcus Fillyaw knocked down a three-point shot, and Rodrick Robinson made a layup to put Cloud County up 13-8.
Delvon Rencher hit from 15 feet for Dodge City, but a basket by Rodrick Robinson, a free throw by Emeka Okoronkwo and a layup by Fillyaw made it an 18-10 game.
“I thought a lot of different guys got us off to a good start,” Eshbaugh said, “Marvin Smith did a good job of getting the ball in the lane and scoring. Marcus Fillyaw was more aggressive offensively.”
Smith hit five of seven field goal attempts and five of seven free throws in scoring a team high 15 points. He also had six rebounds.
Fillyaw finished with 12 points, six rebounds and three assists.
Dodge City got consecutive baskets by Aaron Tate and a three by Vic Adams to close the gap to 18-17.
It was the only field goal in the game for Adams, who ranks second in the Jayhawk Conference in scoring at 19.5 points, but scored just three.
“That was a tremendous effort by our team,” Eshbaugh said.
After getting within one, the Conquistadors would go nearly six minutes without scoring.
Cloud County pumped in eight points during that stretch to open up a 26-17 advantage.
Leading 30-22, the T-Birds scored the final six points of the first half, four by Ed Dyson, and led 36-22 at the break.
Dyson chipped in 10 points for the T-Birds. He was six of six from the free throw line.
A layup by Williams and a bucket by Mboup to start the second half put Cloud County on top 40-22.
Dodge City managed just two field goals in the first 17 minutes of the second half, but did make 12 of 19 free throws.
Despite sending the Conquistadors to the line, the T-Birds were able to build on their lead throughout the final 20 minutes.
“It was very gradual. We didn’t have a big spurt at the start of the second half,” Eshbaugh said, “We were able to avoid the four minute scoring drought which seems to have plagued us over the last month.”
Cloud County had nine different players score in the second half in pulling away to the 30-point win.
“I told them after the game that I didn’t think anybody played poorly. I thought it was a good team effort,” Eshbaugh said, “Coach (Lance) Carter and coach (Spencer) Farha did a very good job preparing them. It was good they heard some things from different voices.”
Williams scored 11 points for Cloud County.
The T-Birds had a 53-29 rebounding advantage, and limited Dodge City to just 24 percent (12 of 51) shooting.
Rencher led the Conquistadors with 17 points.
Aaron Tage added 13 points.
Cloud County plays a Conference game at Garden City on Saturday night.

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