Cloud County Men Pull Away Late to Down Northwest Kansas Tech 65-50

Cloud County Men Pull Away Late to Down Northwest Kansas Tech 65-50
Cloud County Men Pull Away Late to Down Northwest Kansas Tech 65-50

Overcoming early foul trouble and having to mix lineups, the Cloud County Community College men's basketball team would outscore visiting Northwest Kansas Technical College 36-22 in the second half to pull away for a 65-50 home win inside Arley Bryant Gymnasium on Monday, January 17th.

Earning their eighth win of the year, Cloud County is now 8-10 overall and 4-7 in the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference while snapping a five-game skid. Northwest Tech drops their fourth game in their last five outings to fall to 6-13 overall and is now 3-10 in the KJCCC.

"I thought our team played well tonight and it was especially good to see us play the defensive style that we want which has been missing since Christmas break" said head coach Devin Kastrup in a post-game interview. "With us being in foul trouble and having to adjust our lineups and go small but yet win the rebounding battle is a testament to our guys something I'm extremely proud of for them to make happen." "Northwest Kansas Tech didn't shoot the ball great tonight, but overall it's difficult to win in this league so whenever you can get in the win column it means that you played well as a team." "I think the way we play defense caused some rhythm issues on offense since rhythm does affect so much offensively." Early on in the season a lot of our guys were still adjusting to the style we want to play." "Now that we're playing in our rhythm, it's not something that a lot of other teams will have for a rhythm which will allow us to control the pace in games."

Giving up five of the first six points to trail 5-1 after two minutes of action, CCCC would use back-to-back Joe Kearney treys to go up 7-5 before extending the lead on a Nate Duckworth jumper with 15:50 left in the first half. Northwest Tech would respond with two of the next three buckets to pull within two but a pair of Malang Athian free throws and a Zion Obanla back door layup would push the lead to six at 15-9. A quick five points from the Mavericks would see things close back to within one at 15-14 as Cloud County would be unable to extend their lead past six at any point in the opening 20 minutes.

Things would become tied up at 21-21 following a three-point play for NW Tech before seeing the two teams trade the next eight points to create two additional ties heading into the final two minutes of the first half. Following another layup from Obanla, the Mavericks would manage to score the next three points to reclaim the lead at 28-27 with 45 seconds left before halftime, but be unable to add to their lead and see Nate Duckworth drive to the rim and lay in a go-ahead layup as the half came to a close putting CCCC up 29-28.

Duckworth would then open the second half with another layup to put the T-Birds up three, but Northwest Tech would manage to the next four points to go up by a score of 32-31 with 17:59 left in the game. Athian and freshman Corey Sawyer would then spark an 11-2 run that would be capped off by a monster Athian fast-break dunk to give Cloud County an eight-point lead at 42-34 and force a Maverick timeout with momentum swinging fully to CCCC.

Kearney would then connect on another triple to give the T-Birds their first double-digit lead of the contest, but it would be short-lived as Northwest Tech would get back within seven at 50-43 just three minutes later. Limited to just one field goal over a five-minute span, Cloud County would see a once 12-point lead cut down to seven at 52-45 before sparking an 8-2 run as defense would turn into offense to go up 13 at 60-47. Needing to close out the game strong and avoid another run from the Mavericks, the T-Birds would push their lead out to as many as 18 with 1:15 left in the contest before giving up a three-point play in the final minute to finish off their seventh home win of the year.

20 of CCCC's 65 points would come from bench players as part of a 20-9 advantage in bench points to go along with a 38-36 rebounding edge. Both teams would score 28 points in the paint and six fast break points, but it would be a 43.8 percent (seven-of-16) shooting performance from beyond the arc that would really make a difference for Cloud County as the Mavericks would finish just three-of-16 (18.8 percent) from outside.

Duckworth (17), Kearney (14), and Obanla (10) would all finish in double-figures as Obanla would add nine rebounds in 24 minutes of action off the bench while going five-of-six from the field. Corey Sawyer Jr. would add seven points, nine rebounds, and three assists to fill up the stat sheet. Justin Graham ended his night after grabbing seven rebounds and three assists despite fouling out with over seven minutes left in the second half.

What's Next?
Cloud County is at number-five nationally-ranked Hutchinson Community College to take on the Blue Dragons at 7:30 PM from the Hutchinson Sports Arena on Wednesday, January 19th. Hutch outlasted Independence 118-103 on Monday night to move to 17-2 overall and 11-2 in the KJCCC while averaging over 97 points per contest.