CONCORDIA, Kansas — The Cloud County Community College men's basketball team, playing in its final home game of the regular season on Saturday against Allen County Community College, were unable to put all the pieces together in its 93-82 loss to the Red Devils.
Freshman guard Jerome Kidd Jr. had a career-night with 23 points in 19 minutes off the bench, and sophomores Ramion Burt Jr. and Shawn Lee each had solid games in their final home performances. But it was on-ball and help defense that proved costly for the T-Birds (6-22 overall, 4-21 KJCCC).
Allen County (9-20 overall, 7-18 KJCCC) shot 47 percent from the floor for the game, and were an eye-popping 33-of-41 (81 percent) from the free-throw line Saturday.
"I was disappointed in our toughness level," said Cloud County head coach, Jordan Altman. "We worked specifically on sliding over and taking charges on drives, but I think about 6-7 times (Saturday) the help defender was called for a reached and didn't attempt to take a charge, which is the easy way out. That was extremely frustrating since that was something we worked on."
Cloud County held its only lead of the game, 6-3, at the 17:09 mark of the first half on a made layup by sophomore Rahjames Robinson, but they consistently applied the pressure to Allen County.
The T-Birds kept it a 2-3 possession ballgame much of the second half, getting within four at 78-74 with 4:38 remaining on a tip-in dunk by Lee for two of his 11 points, forcing a timeout by Allen County.
Cloud had two chances to cut into the deficit, but were unable to get a jump shot from either Burt Jr. or Kidd Jr. to fall on the ensuing two possessions.
The Red Devils took advantage of the missed opportunities on offense for the T-Birds, and of Cloud County's foul situation, to go on a 10-3 blitz that pushed their lead back up to double-digits at 88-77 with 1:29 remaining.
"It was either a bucket or a foul (allowed by the defense) the entire second half," Altman said. "When you have that happen once or twice, it's OK. But then you expect your team to make the adjustments and not continue to do it over and over again."
The loss overshadowed what was a breakout performance by Kidd Jr., who finished with 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting, three rebounds and just one turnover in 19 minutes off the bench.
It was Kidd Jr.'s best output since Dec. 9 when he scored 18 points in a road win against Butler.
"I like a lot of the stuff he does, particularly offensively. I think throughout the year he has developed defensively as well as anyone we have," said Altman of Kidd Jr. "(Saturday), you saw the same shot selection he has had all year, but this time they were just able to go in. We look forward to a lot of that from him next year."
Burt Jr. was tremendous in his final game inside Arley Bryant Gymnasium, finishing with 16 points and 15 rebounds.
Cloud County will conclude the regular season at 8 p.m. on Monday with a road contest against Independence Community College. The T-Birds will then tip-off the Region VI playoffs at 8 p.m. Thursday with a first-round road game. Their opponent has not yet been determined.