T-Bird women drop to 24th in Independence

INDEPENDENCE – After erasing a 26-point deficit in the second quarter to take a five-point lead with six seconds left in the third quarter, the Cloud County Community College women’s basketball team would be unable to hold off Independence Community College, ranked No. 24, falling by a final score of 92-82 inside the ICC gymnasium in Independence on Saturday.

Falling to 10-10 overall, Cloud County is now 6-8 in the Kansas Jayhawk Community College conference, while the league-leading Pirates maintain their two-game lead over second-placed Hutchinson in rising to 16-3 overall and 12-2 in the KJCCC.

Despite missing five field goals in the first four minutes of play by the T-Birds, Cloud County would be able to take advantage of a pair of offensive rebounds and two defensive saves to prevent Independence from taking a big lead as CCCC would follow. 8-7 with 6:12 left in the first quarter and 10-9 with just over five minutes left in the first period. Cloud County would then fall back even with ICC at 14-14 on a Te Araroa Sopoaga layup before taking the lead on a three-point free throw conversion by the rookie as both teams would begin to find rhythm offensively. Four straight free throws, however, would put the Pirates back in the lead at 18-15 as Independence scored on CCCC 13-6 in the final 2:29 of the quarter to take a 27-21 lead.

Eight straight points by Independence to open the second frame would quickly see the lead increase to 15 at 36-21 as the T-Birds finally returned to the scoring column on a Rori Cox layup in what would equate to their only points in the opening 6:07 of the quarter. CCCC’s scoring drought would see ICC extend their lead to 49-23 with 4:24 to go before halftime as the Pirates connected on eight threes in the first half. Needing a spark to try to reduce the huge deficit to build momentum before intermission, Cloud County would get a Makayla Twyman three to start a 13-3 run to end the first half as the Poteau, Oklahoma native would hit two more triples in the streak to make it a 56-32 halftime deficit.

Twyman would pick up where she left off in the second half, knocking down her fifth triple of the game in the opening minutes of the third quarter as the T-Birds doubled the Pirates 8-4 in the opening 3:21 of the quarter to trail 56 -44 and force ICC to time out. 14 consecutive points in the Independence timeout by CCCC, which included a pair of three-point plays, would allow Cloud County to completely erase the deficit and take its first lead since the closing minutes of the first quarter. inasmuch as Paula Puzule three would put the T-Birds up 61-58. A five-point push from Independence would put the Pirates back in the lead momentarily at 63-61, but a Cox layup would kick off a 7-0 run by the T-Birds in the final. 1:25 of the third quarter capped a 32-point third quarter from Cloud County to give CCCC their biggest lead of the game at 68-63 with 10 minutes left in the game.

The momentum created by the T-Birds during their run would be quickly erased by Independence to start the fourth as nine consecutive ICC points would be part of a 14-2 run to start the final period and allow the Pirates to go up 76- 70 with 5:15 remaining. Two free throws from Kay Hauata-Phillips would put Cloud County back in the four at 76-72, but seven quick points from Independence would put the Pirates on the verge of pushing their lead back into double digits. Trailing 83-74 with 2:47 left in the game and needing one last push to try to close the gap, CCCC would score the next four points of the game to drop back into the five with a little more two minutes to play. but would not come close as two pirate treys would slam the door on a comeback and allow ICC to escape a thwarted offer from the T-Birds.

19 points on turnovers and 10 second-chance points for CCCC would be matched by Independence as the T-Birds would give up a season-high in points (92) and three-pointers (14) as the Pirates were shooting 53.0 percent (35-of-66) from the field and 14-of-29 (48.3 percent) from beyond the arc. Cloud County would also be hurt by a 43-32 rebound deficit and just 13 bench points.

A team-high 20 points from Twyman would be paired with a performance of 15 points and seven rebounds from Phillips as Cox (15) and Puzule (11) would also hit double digits. Puzule would add six assists and four rebounds while Cox would provide four rebounds and a team-high four steals. The Independence would be led by a game-high 26 points and 15 rebounds from Maisa Marcal.

And after?
A three-game streak featuring the KJCCC’s top three teams ends Saturday for CCCC as the T-Birds host Seward County Community College at 2 p.m. The afternoon will also include a Cloud County Basketball Alumni Reunion and the induction of the 15th class into the Cloud County Athletics Hall of Fame. Seward County defeated Colby Community College by a final score of 77-52 on Sunday afternoon and will host Dodge City on Wednesday night before heading to Concordia on Saturday.

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