CONCORDIA, Kansas — Defense has been a constant for the Cloud County Community College men's basketball team much of the 2017-18 season. Unfortunately, the T-Birds struggled on that end of the floor Wednesday in its 90-76 home loss to Butler Community College.
The uncharacteristic night on defense was made more painful by the face that Cloud County (6-19 overall, 4-18 KJCCC) shot a solid 45 percent from the floor (26-of-58) Wednesday.
Butler answered the bell with a 46 percent shooting night (30-of-66), including a 56 percent clip in the second half.
"We had some guys standing straight up, not focused. The intensity level wasn't high enough. And then they tried to react to the situation and by then it's too late against a good team that is confident and playing well, which is Butler right now," said Cloud County head coach, Jordan Altman. "They attacked us and went after us and at no point did we stick our chest out and try to stop them."
The Grizzlies (12-13 overall, 9-13 KJCCC), a team that has primarily done their damage in the half-court setting this season, were able to take advantage of some fast-break opportunities off long rebounds, turnovers and even some made field goals by the T-Birds.
Butler's surprise pace netted it a 15-2 advantage in fast break points and 14-5 margin in points off turnovers Wednesday.
"We saw in the scouting report that perhaps (Butler) didn't attack in transition as much as some of the other teams in our league. And I think what that translated too was us just assuming they weren't going to attack in transition and we didn't get back and we didn't cover."
Cloud County led 31-29 at the half, and were up 42-41 with 13:35 remaining following a thunderous dunk by redshirt freshman Alvin Thompson.
The two teams continued to trade baskets until the Grizzlies went on an 11-4 burst between the 5:39 mark of the second half and the 2:29 mark, capped off on a 3-point dagger by Karlon McSpadden off an in-bounds play as the shot clock expired to make it an 83-72 lead.
Redshirt sophomore forward Ramion Burt Jr. again led the way for Cloud County on Wednesday with 17 points and seven rebounds. He was joined in double-figures by freshman JaVary Christmas with 12 points and Thompson with 13 points.
Freshman guard Brayden Day also had a breakout performance as he scored a career-high 15 points off the bench.
Cloud County will conclude its mini two-game home stand at 8 p.m. on Saturday against Barton during Homecoming and Hall of Fame Night.
Altman said he is hopeful his team can put the complete package together over the four remaining regular season games, allowing the T-Birds to enter the Region VI Tournament in March as a potential Cinderella.
"Not every league or every situation do you have a tournament like that (Region VI Tournament) that where it can change your whole season in 5-6 days. That's kind of the closest comparison we have to the NCAA Division I level. If you win your conference tournament, you get go to the big dance," Altman said. "If you can go down and surprise some people in Wichita, who knows what can happen."