CONCORDIA, Kansas — It was no secret the Butler Community College women's basetball team would get to the free-throw line when Cloud County Community College played host the the conference foe on Sunday. The visiting Grizzlies are second in made free throws and attempts in the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference.
What wasn't expected was the Grizzlies, who entered the game shooting 62 percent from the line, cashing in on 26 of 31 (84 percent) free throw opportunities in a roller coaster, 69-59 victory over the T-Birds inside Arley Bryant Gymnasium.
Butler (9-3 overall, 6-3 KJCCC) outshot Cloud County 31-21 at the charity stripe and made 10 more free throws (26-16) than the T-Birds (9-3 overall, 6-3 KJCCC).
"Butler did a good job of getting to the line and making its free throws," said Cloud County head coach, Brett Erkenbrack. "But the stat that stands out to me the most is our 29 turnovers."
The 29 giveaways, 19 of which came in the first half, were a season high for Cloud County and the Grizzlies took full advantage of the extra possessions as they tallied 29 points off turnovers.
"We couldn't get out of our own way, offensively. We dug ourselves a big hole and I felt a lot of the turnovers were silly and unforced," Erkenbrack said. "Those are demoralizing plays. When you throw the ball to the other team or into the bleachers, or you let them take the ball the other way and lay it up, those are the kinds of plays that take energy away from your ballclub. We had a lot of that."
Despite the 19 first-half turnovers, Cloud County was able to remain in shouting distance down just 36-20 at the break.
The T-Birds made their surge in the third quarter as they outscored Butler 24-8 to take their first lead since the 7:24 mark of the first quarter.
Sophomore guards Chelcie Kizart and Kaley Broeckelman led the comeback as each had nine points in the third quarter. Kizart would finish with a game-high 28 points, seven rebounds and five assists, while Brockelman added 14 points.
"We were the aggressor in the third quarter," Erkenbrack said. "We had some steals, got some transition opportunities, and we hit some shots. We were getting a handle on the game and had a four-point lead heading into the fourth quarter after not playing very well. We had to feel pretty good about that, but then it was the turnovers and parade to the free throw line in the fourth quarter."
Butler, aided by its 17-for-21 mark at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter, methodically built its lead back up to nine with 3:28 remaining, forcing a Cloud County timeout. The T-Birds were unable to inch closer than five the rest of the way as they were plagued by 3-for-15 shooting and six turnovers over the final 10 minutes.
Cloud County will look to regroup when players get back from Christmas break and take on Barton Community College at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017.