CONCORDIA, Kansas — With 5:57 remaining in the second quarter, Cloud County Community College fans held their breath as sophomore Erin Alexander needed helped off the floor with a sprained ankle and her team holding a 27-13 lead over Neosho County Community College.
It was a pivotal moment during Saturday's Homecoming matchup, and the T-Birds responded to the adversity as they gritted out a 72-56 victory, playing without their First-Team All-Conference forward.
"I thought we got good production from a number of people. First off, Kelsi Mueller was outstanding," said Cloud County head coach, Brett Erkenbrack. "In the first half she was about all we had. We got good production from Shannon Owens and Kennedy Gay. I was a little disappointed in our overall effort, but we got through the adversity of not having Erin for most of the game and it was a good win for us."
Alexander's injury does not appear to be serious enough that she's in jeopardy of missing future time. But in her absence, freshman Kennedy Gay and sophomores Shannon Owens and Amaris Jones helped pick up the slack.
Owens tallied 10 points off the bench, Jones scored 13 points, and Gay grabbed seven rebounds.
Cloud County (15-7 overall, 12-7 KJCCC) finished with a 40-28 advantage in points in the paint and a 23-14 edge over Neosho County (9-14 overall, 6-13 KJCCC) in bench points.
After holding a slim 17-13 lead through one quarter, the T-Birds built their separation during the first 6:02 of the second quarter as they went on a 13-0 run during that span to balloon their lead to 30-13.
Mueller and sophomore guard Kaley Broeckelman traded off the heavy lifting on the perimeter as Mueller scored all 15 of her points in the first half. She added a team-high five assists and a pair of steals, while Broeckelman poured in all 14 of her points in the second half, including 11 in the third quarter to help give the T-Birds a 57-38 lead heading to the fourth.
Neosho County never inched closer than 11 points the rest of the way as Cloud County coasted to the 72-56 final.
Saturday was a special night for Erkenbrack and the Cloud County basketball programs as the 1979-80 men and women's basketball teams were inducted into the Cloud County Athletics Hall of Fame.
Each team won the Region VI Championships that season, with the men's team being under the direction of Brett's father Dennis Erkenbrack, a Cloud County Hall of Fame coach and the winningest men's basketball coach (502-225) in the program's history.
"Cloud County Community College is a big part of my life. It's always been a big part of my life and during that time, 1979-80, our men's and women's basketball was fantastic," said Brett Erkenbrack, who spoke during the Hall of Fame induction ceremony. "We had a great turnout. I know it was a thrill for my dad, for my whole family, and all the players from both teams who were able to make it back. It was a wonderful night for Cloud County Community College."
Up next for the T-Birds will be a road trip to Colby Community College (3-20 overall, 1-18 KJCCC) on Wednesday. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.