CONCORDIA, Kansas — For the second straight game, the Cloud County Community College men's basketball team hung 100-plus points on an opponent and cruised to a convincing victory; this one being a 108-67 rout of Bethany College JV on Tuesday.
But for the second straight game, the T-Birds' left room for some needed improvements before Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference (KJCCC) games start piling up, starting at 3 p.m. Saturday on the road against Dodge City Community College.
"I didn't think we played particularly well (Tuesday). We weren't real focused," said Cloud County head coach, Chad Eshbaugh. "Reality is, it's early in the season, but we have to get better every day. I don't think we got better today."
Through six minutes, the undefeated T-Birds (4-0 overall) found themselves in unfamiliar territory as they trailed, 11-9. It was just the second time in the past three games that Cloud County had found itself behind on the scoreboard.
Cloud County would build a manageable 12-point lead over the next nine minutes before playing its best five-minute stretch of basketball on the evening, finishing the half on a 20-5 run that balloon the half-time lead to 62-35.
"I thought that was our best stretch of the night, those last five minutes of the first half," Eshbaugh said. "I thought we defended pretty well during that stretch and Rashun Allen gave us great energy. We were able to create turnovers and create a little offense with our defense."
Allen, a sophomore out of Salina, Kansas, finished with a team-high 18 points, adding six assists, five rebounds and four steals off the bench in what was his best performance of the young season.
As it has done every night to start the year, Cloud County's bench was a major X-factor as it outscored Bethany's reserves, 64-14.
Redshirt freshman Ramion Burt Jr. finished four rebounds shy of another double-double as he scored 10 points and grabbed six boards as the first big-man off the bench. Sophomore point guard Aamahne Santos finished with nine points and eight assists, while his fellow sophomore backcourt mate Deon Lyle tallied 15 points on 4-of-8 shooting from the field and a spotless 6-for-6 mark at the free-throw line.
Lyle provided Tuesday's highlight with a one-handed dunk from the left block that ignited Arley Bryant Gymnasium midway through the second half.
Cloud County will now turn its attention toward Dodge City Community College (3-0 overall) as the two square off at 3 p.m. on Saturday to open KJCCC player.
A major area Eshbaugh said his team needs to clean up before they step on the floor Saturday is how they finish defensive possessions. Cloud County allowed 14 offensive rebounds Tuesday to a Swedes' JV team that featured just one player taller than six-foot, three-inches.
"Our guys are young and it's easy to sit there and say 'hey, we won by a substantial margin.' But I hope they're a mature enough group — and they've been great to work with so far in practice — that they understand we didn't play great tonight and we need to tighten the screws for the grind of the Jayhawk Conference," Eshbaugh said.