CONCORDIA, Kansas — The Cloud County Community College women's basketball team looked in mid-season form Saturday evening when it opened up Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference (KJCCC) action against Dodge City Community College.
Cloud County (4-0 overall, 1-0 KJCCC) limited the visiting Conquistadors (2-1 overall, 0-1 KJCCC) to 29 percent shooting for game and dominated action from the opening tip en route to a 79-51 victory."
"I'm really happy with the way we played, outside of about a four-minute stretch there in the fourth quarter," said Cloud County head coach, Brett Erkenbrack. "I thought we were outstanding. I couldn't have asked for a much better start to the ballgame…very proud of our effort and the way we played."
The T-Birds' put the clamps on Dodge City early as they jumped out to a 15-0 lead before the Conqs got on the scoreboard with 3:30 remaining in the first quarter. Cloud would maintain that 13-point advantage, taking a 23-10 lead into the second quarter.
"It removed a lot of the anxiety," said Erkenbrack, referring to Cloud County's 15-0 run to start the game. "Not only did Dodge City not score, it hardly got a shot there for a long period of time. Our activity with our hands, movement with our bodies, and our aggressiveness right now is really good."
The T-Birds built off the early momentum to up the lead to 46-26 at the half.
Sophomore guard Kelsi Mueller again led the way for Cloud County as she scored 20 of her game-high 24 points through the first 20 minutes. She added three steal, four rebounds and a team-high five assists on the night, as well.
"Kelsi Mueller was unbelievable in the first half, as she was our first game of the year," Erkenbrack said. "She's certainly a gamer and she's proven that over and over. She is just giving us everything you'd hope for from a returning sophomore starter. She's playing her heart out."
Sophomore forward Kennedy Gay had a big night for the T-Birds, as well, as she grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds and was one point shy of a double-double.
As a team, Cloud County out-rebounded Dodge City, 48-39, despite the absence of forward Keisha Hamilton, who suffered a torn ACL injury at practice earlier in the week.
"We go after the ball hard," Erkenbrack said. "We have a lot of tenacity for the basketball and we're going to have to maintain that because, with the loss of Keisha Hamilton, we're even more undersized."
Up next for the T-Birds will be a challenging back-to-back next week against No. 12 ranked Hutchinson Community College at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, before another home matchup at 6 p.m. Saturday against No. 8 ranked Seward County Community College.
"We're going to have to play exceptionally well," Erkenbrack said. "That's where (Saturday), the little lull we had in the second half where we made some silly fouls and had some silly possessions, we're going to have to clean that up. That type of stuff will really bite us against good competition like Hutchinson and Seward. We have to do what it is that we do, and the main thing that we do is play really hard. I think our intensity, tenacity and aggressiveness is a little hard for other people to simulate."