Cougars steal one from Thunderbirds, 80-75
A opportunity for the Cloud County Thunderbirds to extend their winning streak was stolen away by the Barton Community College Cougars.
Clinging to a 77-75 lead, the Cougars came up with two steals and knocked down three of four free throws in the final 30 seconds of the game to slip away with an 80-75 Jayhawk Conference victory over Cloud County Wednesday night in Bryant Gymnasium.
The T-Birds had a four-game winning streak snapped with the loss. The fall to 10-6 and 4-3 in conference play.
“I told the guys I hoped this one hurt, because that was a lesson we needed to learn,” Cloud County coach Jordan Altman said, “We felt like it was a very winnable game for us, especially at home. We've got some guys back from injury, and we felt like we had every chance and we certainly gave a really good shot there. We just had some mental breakdowns at really bad times.”
Barton (13-2 overall and 4-2 in the conference) led most the game, but the T-Birds kept hanging around.
The Cougars were on top 69-61 when Leondre Washington hit from 17 feet with 6:11 to play in the game.
Cloud County then mounted a charge.
Edoardo Del Cadia knocked down two free throws and freshman Gabe Pieschl buried a three-point shot to pull the T-Birds within three points, 69-66.
Pieschl was seeing his first action since suffering a wrist injury back on November 16.
Diovonte Caldwell hit a three for Barton, but Pieschl answered with one of his own.
Cloud County got a steal, and Alvin Thompson grabbed an offensive rebound and scored.
Forcing yet another turnover by the Cougars, the T-Birds got a layup by Thompson to take its first lead of the second half, 73-72, with 2:20 to play.
Washington drove to the basket, scored and got fouled. He made the free throw to put the Cougars back on top, 75-73.
Each team had an empty possession, and Thompson scored inside to tie the game at 75-75 with 1:41 to play.
Barton went up 77-75 on a basket by Akeem White with 38 seconds on the clock.
Cloud County had the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead, but the Cougars came up with a steal and Martin Vogts was fouled. He went one of two from the line to make it 78-75.
A second straight Cloud County offensive possession ended with a steal by Barton.
Washington knocked down two free throws with eight seconds remaining to seal the win for the Cougars, 80-75.
“There were a couple of mental lapses on defense, but you have to give Barton credit because some of those finishes were just very impressive,” Altman said, “That's the difference in the game. They had some very impressive finishes on difficult baskets and we missed some very easy looks on some very easy baskets.”
Thompson led all scorers with 24 points. He was 9 of 17 from the field and five of six from the free throw line, and also had five rebounds.
No other Cloud County player scored more than nine points.
“Our biggest issue right now is finding someone to help Alvin with scoring,” Altman said, “We just didn't have anyone step up to help him. It is a five-point ball game, and you could add five points to about four of our guys as far as missed shots go.”
White led three Barton players in double figures with 19 points.
Washington finished with 18 points and Elijah Ford scored 12 points and pulled down 10 rebounds.
Cloud County fell behind 7-0 to start the game.
With six different players scoring the T-Birds put together a 21-11 run to go up 21-18 when Jerome Kidd Jr. hit a deep three with 7:50 to play in the first half.
Barton scored the next nine points to go up 27-21.
The T-Birds fought back to take a 29-28 lead.
The two teams went back and forth over the final four minutes of the half.
A three by Vogts in the final seconds gave Barton a 38-34 advantage.
Never trailing by more than six points, the T-Birds stayed within striking distance the first 16 minutes of the second half. They made the late run to take the lead, but were unable to hang on.
Cloud County plays consecutive road games at Pratt Community College on Saturday afternoon and Butler Community College on Monday afternoon.