CONCORDIA, Kansas — The Cloud County Community College women's basketball team suffered its first home loss of the season on Saturday during the Cloud County Thanksgiving Classic, falling by the score of 75-73 in a knock-down-drag-out battle with Iowa Western Community College.
Cloud County (7-2 overall) had the edge in three of the four quarters, but a forgettable third quarter that saw the Reivers (5-3 overall) outscore the T-Birds, 19-8, inevitably creating a second-half hole the T-Birds were unable to climb all the way back from.
"I thought it was a good ballgame and that we had done enough to give ourselves a chance to win," said Cloud County head coach, Brett Erkenbrack. "We had that bad third quarter and that was basically it."
The T-Birds shot 2-of-12 during the third quarter — Iowa Western posted an 8-for-16 clip — and were hampered physically and possibly emotionally by a pair or injuries to freshmen guards Emmiley Hendrixson and Chase Siedlik just minutes apart from each other.
Siedlik exited the game at the 8:34 mark of the third quarter, and Hendrixson left the game with 6:36 remaining in the quarter with Iowa Western's leading 41-40.
Both players fortunately returned to action Saturday, with Siedlik finishing with nine points and Hendrixson with six, but the initial fears and stoppages added to what was a nightmare 10 minutes for the T-Birds.
"It seemed like those two going down within minutes of each other just stunned us enough that it took us out of what rhythm we had," Erkenbrack said. "Then we ended up playing most of the second half uphill."
Iowa Western would build its lead up to nine with 9:47 remaining in the fourth quarter before the T-Birds were able to regain their footing.
Cloud County, which shot 8-of-13 (62 percent) in the fourth quarter, pulled even one of the Reivers with 4:40 remaining on a 3-pointer by Hendrixson. The T-Birds were again within one at the 2:16 and 1:22 marks via scores from sophomore forward Cassidy Haufler, who scored a team-high 20 points.
Cloud had two chances to tie or take the lead in the final minute, but committed a turnover out of a timeout with 11.5 seconds remaining, and had a potential game-winning buzzer-beater by Hendrixson fall shy of the rim, resulting in the 75-73 final.
"I think it was one of those games where, if we could have ever gotten it tied or taken the lead late, it could have changed things dramatically," Erkenbrack said. "But to Iowa Western's credit, it is a good ball club that made some shots and made a couple more plays than we did."
Joining Haufler in double-figures Saturday was freshman guard Chiara De Virgilio and sophomore Kamryn Collins with 10 points apiece, and sophomore forward Scout Frame posted a double-double with 14 points and a season-high 16 rebounds.
Cloud County will have a quick opportunity to bounce back from Saturday's loss as it hosts Southeast Community College at 6 p.m. Monday in the final non-conference game before KJCCC action gets underway Wednesday against Garden City.
"There were a lot of positives in the game today, such as getting that early lead and the first 15 minutes of the ballgame I thought we played pretty darn well," Erkenbrack said. "We had to battle for 40 minutes and gave ourselves a chance to win it and it'd have been nice to get it. This was a Jayhawk Conference type of game and hopefully next time we'll be able to execute a little better in late-game situations and have a better result."