Santos posts 23 points and six assists, lifts Cloud to an 80-70 win over Garden City

Sophomore point guard Aamahne Santos
Sophomore point guard Aamahne Santos

CONCORDIA, Kansas — Sophomore point guard Aamahne Santos poured in a game-high 23 points and dished out a game-high six assists Saturday to help lead the Cloud County Community College men's basketball team to a much-need 80-70 victory over Garden City Community College.

Santos scored 17 of his 23 points in the first half and the 23 points were one off his season-high of 24 back on Dec. 7 in the first meeting between Cloud County (16-9 overall, 12-9 KJCCC) the Broncbusters (15-10 overall, 11-10 KJCCC).

"I thought Aamahne was really dialed in (Saturday)," said Cloud County head coach, Chad Eshbaugh. "He really ran our team well, took shots when they presented themselves, and then got everybody involved. He was your prototypical point guard tonight and the guy that led us."

With the win, Cloud County erased a mini three-game losing skid and moved into a two-way tie for fourth place in the KJCCC standings with Coffeyville.

"This is a really good win. Garden City has a really nice team and we hadn't been playing well the last week or so," Eshbaugh said. "I was really happy for the guys to play good basketball and find a way to win a basketball game because it (slumps) can weigh on your mind. This is a really good group of guys and I really want them to have great success."

After taking a 38-33 lead at the half, Cloud County owned the first 10 minutes of the second half, building its lead to as many as 19 with 11:25 remaining, thanks in large part to an extended press that aided in 10 second-half turnovers by Garden City.

"We extended our defense a bit, which we don't do a ton, but we thought that was a decent matchup tonight and we were able to create some turnovers, some transition baskets and momentum," Eshbaugh said. "It was good for us tonight."

The Broncbusters made their push back, getting with nine at the 2:34 mark on a 3-pointer by Josh Fleming, and as close as six points at 76-70 with 18 ticks remaining on another deep 3-pointer by Fleming.

That's the closest Garden City, which shot just 9-of-25 from the free-throw line Saturday, would come as the T-Birds were able to make their free-throws down the stretch to seal the 80-70 final.

Joining Santos in double-figures Saturday was sophomore guard Deon Lyle with 13 points, redshirt freshman Ramion Burt Jr. with 12 points off the bench, and redshirt freshman Jordan McNelly with 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting.

Sophomore Andrew Ballock was solid again from the small forward spot, finishing with eight points, a team-high eight rebounds, five assists and three steals in 36 minutes, while sophomore forward Alex Martin added eight points, as well.

Cloud County will be back in action at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday when it travels to face Butler Community College (14-10 overall, 11-10 KJCCC) in what will be another key game in the KJCCC standings with five games remaining.

"Everyone is so bunched up (in the standings) and beating the heck out of each other," Eshbaugh said. "I've never been through anything quite like this with the 26-game conference schedule. I know it's a cliché, but we're just trying to focus on the next one in front of us."