T-Birds snap Red Devils' home winning streak with 79-77 overtime victory

Sophomore forward Cherif Fall
Sophomore forward Cherif Fall

IOLA, Kansas — Defeating the Allen Community College men's basketball team on its home floor has been a tough task this season for Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference teams. Entering Saturday's matchup with Cloud County Community College, the Red Devils owned an 11-5 home record and had won their last five contests in Iola.

The T-Birds snapped that streak Saturday, and improved to 8-6 out on the road this season, with a gritty 79-77 overtime win also gave them a one-game lead over Coffeyville for fourth place in the KJCCC standings with one regular season game remaining.

"We knew we were going to have to play pretty well to win (Saturday) and I thought we battled through the adversity that comes with a close, hard-fought game and found a way to pull it out at the end," said Cloud County head coach, Chad Eshbaugh.

Redshirt freshman Jordan McNelly tipped home his own miss with 3.9 seconds remaining in overtime to break a 77-77 tie. The Salina native finished with 11 points and seven rebounds.

McNelly's tip-in polished off what was a 22-9 advantage for Cloud County (19-10 overall, 15-10 KJCCC) in second-chance points.

The T-Birds finished with 16 offensive rebounds, four of which came from redshirt freshman Ramion Burt Jr., three by McNelly, and two by sophomore Cherif Fall, who finished with two points, five total rebounds and was an unsung hero Saturday night with his activity around the basket.

"I thought Cherif was absolutely great tonight. He played with great energy on the boards and defensively," Eshbaugh said. "He really changed the tone of the game."

Sophomore guard Andrew Ballock, one of five T-Birds in double-figures with 12 points, nailed a 3-pointer from the left wing with 34 seconds left in regulation to give Cloud County a 70-68 lead.

Allen (13-16 overall, 10-15 KJCCC) answered with a pair of free throws on the other end to tie game up again. Two possessions later, the Red Devils had a pair of chances at potential game-winners, but couldn't convert and setting the stage for overtime.

Joining Ballock and McNelly in double-figures were Rashun Allen and sophomore Deon Lyle with 11 points apiece, while sophomore point guard Aamahne Santos led the way with a team-high 17 points.

Cloud County will look to close out the regular season strong, and secure the No. 4 seed in the Region VI Tournament, when it hosts Independence Community College at 8 p.m. on Monday for Sophomore Night.