CONCORDIA, Kansas — The Cloud County Community College men's basketball team played with intensity. It put itself in positions to make plays. But the basketball didn't cooperate in Wednesday's 77-67 loss to Garden City Community College.
Cloud County (3-8 overall, 1-7 KJCCC) was hampered by a 34-percent (24-of-71) mark from the field against the visiting Broncbusters (9-3 overall, 5-3 KJCCC).
"There were a lot of good things. We definitely competed at a higher level than we have been. The effort was pretty solid throughout the night," said Cloud County head coach, Jordan Altman. "We just couldn't connect on some of our shots."
Timely makes, and a 13-2 advantage in second-chance points in the first half, helped the T-Birds keep pace through the first 20 minutes of Wednesday's action as they went into the halftime locker rooms down just 33-30.
Cloud County stayed step for step with Garden City through the first 12 minutes of the second half, as well, inching within four on a 3-pointer from freshman guard JaVary Christmas that made the score 54-50.
Garden City, behind a blistering 16-of-30 (53 percent) mark from the field in the second half, countered with a 15-5 blitz to over the next five minutes to build a cushion at 69-55 with 2:58 remaining.
"We executed the game plan in the first half. he game plan was to really try and take away their bigs and their post presence. I thought we did that for quite some time," Altman said. "It's just unfortunate the last 5-8 minutes of the game, we struggled to stop dribble penetration from the guard position. Something that wasn't our chief concern really hurt us."
Redshirt sophomore forward Ramion Burt Jr. was solid again for the T-Birds in defeat, finishing with 16 points, nine rebounds and four steals in 35 minutes.
Christmas tied Burt Jr. for the team lead with 16 points off the bench on 6-of-9 shooting. It was the third time in the last five games that Christmas has scored in double-figures.
"He's finally starting to feel comfortable and knock down his shot," said Altman, referring to Christmas. "He's doing a lot of good things for us, offensively, and has been a big lift the last 2-3 games now. We just need him to continue to grow to be an all-around player."
Redshirt freshman forward Alvin Thompson was the third T-Bird in double-figures with 12 points, while freshman Breyon Jackson and sophomore Solomon Finley added nine points and eight points, respectively.
Cloud County will conclude the fall semester portion of its schedule at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday on the road against Butler Community College. Altman said he is hoping his team can continue to build off the positives from Wednesday and head into the holiday break on a high note.
"Every step toward something better is important right now. Even if we take just one step because we're going to be taking a long break and try to put something together in the second half (of the season)," Altman said. "Even if it's just one step, it'd still be one step forward. I think, mentally, (Butler) could be a good game for us. There's going to be a lot of similarities between the style of play."