CONCORDIA, Kansas — Wednesday's rematch between the Cloud County Community College men's basketball team and Dodge City Community College lived up to its billing.
It took 50 minutes to decide which team would walk out of Arley Bryant Gymnasium in third place in the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference standings. Unfortunately for the T-Birds, they were the ones on the wrong end of Wednesday's double-overtime thriller, falling 104-103.
"It was a high-level game. Both teams played with a lot of passion. It obviously stings when you come out on the wrong side on one of those, but it was a very competitive, competitive game," said Cloud County head coach, Chad Eshbaugh.
The two KJCCC rivals traded turns knocking down big shot after big shot, starting with a 3-pointer sophomore Deon Lyle banked in for three of his team-high 25 points that forced the first overtime.
Fellow sophomore Andrew Ballock, fresh off his career-high 31 points in Monday's victory, looked like he'd play hero for the T-Birds (13-5 overall, 9-5 KJCCC) when he drained a 3-pointer eight seconds remaining in overtime, giving Cloud a 96-93 lead over Dodge (13-5 overall, 10-4 KJCCC).
But it was Dodge City's turn to beat the buzzer as Kourtney Ware buried a 3-pointer of his own to force a second overtime.
"That one really hurt," said Eshbaugh, referring to Ware's basket. "We didn't have any timeouts left (after Ballock's 3-pointer) and it was kind of one of those things where you don't know if you should foul or don't foul. We made the correct switch, but we didn't take that extra step (to contest) and Ware made that deep one. That's one of those situations where we have to make that play."
Despite the swing in momentum, Cloud County was able to go up four points in the second overtime following back-to-back baskets from Ballock, who finished with 21 points.
The T-Birds led as late as 102-100 with 57 seconds left on a pair of free throws from sophomore Aamahne Santos (21 points, seven assists and four steals), and were tied at 103-103 with 11.9 seconds left on a free throw from Rashun Allen.
Allen's second free throw came off short. Dodge City got out in transition and Dreon Lewis drew a foul, making 1-of-2 free throws to give the Conquistadors a 104-103 lead.
Lewis missed his second free throw, giving Cloud County one last chance with 7.3 seconds left, but Santos was unable to get his contested layup to fall as time expired.
The T-Birds, who entered Wednesday shooting over 70 percent at the free-throw line, had an off night at the stripe as they finished 15-of-24 (63 percent).
Joining Lyle and Santos in double-figures for Cloud County was Ballock with 21 points, redshirt freshman Ramion Burt Jr. with 12 points off the bench, and redshirt freshman Jordan McNelly with 14 points and a career-high 14 rebounds.
The T-Birds will look to bounce back at 7:30 p.m. Saturday when they travel to face No. 2 ranked Hutchinson Community College (18-0 overall, 14-0 KJCCC). Cloud County played stride for stride with the Blue Dragons in the first meeting between the two teams on Nov. 16 before falling 80-74.
Saturday's rematch figures to be another tight, contested conference battle between the KJCCC foes.
"For us, we have to be us. We have to play really well, share the basketball and defend," Eshbaugh said. "It'll be one of those things where we have to compete to the best of our ability. It's a three-game week. We have to find our heart, find our legs, and head to Hutch."