COLBY, Kansas — The first five minutes of Saturday's conference showdown against Colby Community College put the Cloud County Community College men's basketball team behind the 8-ball in an eventual 88-68 road loss.
The T-Birds (3-7 overall, 1-6 KJCCC) came out flat-footed and found themselves down double-digits at 18-8 by the 14:17 mark of the first half. Colby (7-3 overall, 4-3 KJCCC) expanded that lead to 31-14 with 12 minutes remaining before Cloud County was able to stabilize the run.
Colby would end up shooting 57 percent in the first half en route to 48-29 lead at the break. The Trojans finished the game at an efficient 49 percent with 22 assists versus nine turnovers.
"Colby shot 57 percent in large part because we were giving up wide open layups. That was our slowest start of the year. We had no energy," said Cloud County head coach, Jordan Altman. "We have some guys who are sick or banged up and I know that plays into it. We played even with Colby for about 30-35 minutes, but the first five minutes to start the game was just awful."
After trailing by as many as 21, the T-Birds went on a quick 8-0 blitz during the early stages of the second half to get back within 13 at 56-43. Freshman forward Adetomi Ayilara buried a corner 3-pointer to cap the run with 14:59 remaining, but the Trojans were able to counter with a 6-0 run of its own out of the timeout to halt Cloud's momentum.
"Every time we made a run, there'd be a missed assignment," Altman said. "We'd forget to block someone out or fail to get out to a shooter. It's little mistakes we work on every day in practice."
Redshirt sophomore forward Ramion Burt Jr. paced all scorers with a game-high 21 points and recorded his fifth double-double of the season in the process with 13 rebounds.
Up next for the T-Birds will be their final home game of the fall semester at 8 p.m. Wednesday against Garden City Community College.
It's an important game for the T-Birds as they look to snap a current five-game skid against a Broncbusters' program that Altman contributed to as an assistant coach for two years prior to taking the head coaching job at Cloud County.
"I probably wouldn't have the job here if I didn't spend that time at Garden City and get the experience and references I did. I appreciate John Green (Athletic Director) and Brady Trenkle (Head Coach) helping me with this opportunity at Cloud County," Altman said. "I'd like to prove to them I was good enough to reference and I'd like for us to play them competitively. So the game is circled, but not because of my time there. It's circled because it's the next game up and we have to get this ship righted."