Thunderbirds grind out 84-78 win over Trojans

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Cloud County capped off its first trek through the Jayhawk Conference Western Division by grinding out an 84-78 win over Colby Community College Saturday night in Bryant Gymnasium.
Trailing 63-61 in the second half, the Thunderbirds scored 12 straight points to grab a 73-63 lead and withstood a late flurry by the Trojans to improve to 11-12 overall and 3-4 in the Jayhawk West.
Cloud County  opens the second half of the conference season by hosting Pratt on Wednesday night.
“The main thing is we have got to continue progressing. I see us progressing, playing better more regularly,” Cloud County coach Chad Eshbaugh said of the second half of the conference season, “We need to find ways to overcome adversity on the road and pick up a couple of road wins.”
Cloud County and Colby spent the first 36 plus minutes of the game exchanging runs.
The Trojans, 9-14 overall and 0-7 in the Conference, were down 47-36 early in the second half when they put together a 21-7 spurt to grab a 57-54 lead when Terry Starks completed a three-point play with 10:55 remaining in the game.
“Colby has a really nice team. They have played nearly everybody in Conference close,” Eshbaugh said.
Shaun Stewart tied the game with a three-point basket.
Branden Williams scored inside to give Colby the lead back at 59-57.
The Trojans were on top 63-61 when Lorenzo Dillard hit from 15 feet to ignite the 12-0 run by Cloud County.
Dillard led all scorers with 24 points and had four rebounds and five assists. He hit 7 of 17 field goal attempts and 8 of 11 free throws.
Colby went 4:32 without scoring before Jeremiah Ingram made two free throws to make it a 71-63 game with 3:04 on the clock.
A layup by Marvin Smith gave Cloud County the 10-point lead back at 75-65.
Smith came off the bench to score 16 points for the T-Birds.
“It was a game of mini runs. It was a game neither team could get any real separation,” Eshbaugh said.
Cloud County led 79-69 with just under a minute to play when the Trojans made one final push.
Ingram hit a jumper and Williams got a dunk after a Cloud County turnover.
Dillard connected on two free throws, and the T-Birds led 81-73 with 32 seconds left.
A long two-point shot by Williams made it an 81-75 game.
After Dillard made one of two free throws, Williams buried a three, and Colby was down just 82-78 with 12 seconds on the clock.
Dillard hit two free throws two seconds later, and the T-Birds led 84-78.
Colby was unable to draw any closer.
Stewart scored 15 points for Cloud County.
Lionel Gomis added eight points and six rebounds.
Cloud County hit 30 of 60 field goal attempts for 50 percent, but was just 17 of 33 from the free throw line for 52 percent.
Ingram paced Colby with 20 points.
Ramon Johnson scored 15 points for the Trojans. Starks scored 13 points and Williams had 11.
The Trojans were 26 of 57 from the floor for 46 percent and 21 of 29 from the line for 72 percent.
Colby bolted to a 10-0 lead in the game, and Eshbaugh called an early timeout.
“We turned it over, which is the big thing,” Eshbaugh said, “We came and and turned it over and got down double figures. We have to start games better than that.”
Cloud County responded with a 14-14 spurt to pull even at 14-14.
The Trojans would open up a 24-19 lead, but managed just one field goal over the final 9:14 of the first half.
Cloud County outscored Colby 23-10 during that stretch to take a 42-34 halftime lead.
The Trojans fought back to grab the 57-54 advantage, but the T-Birds responded late to pick up the win.

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