CONCORDIA, Kansas — The Cloud County Community College women's basketball team took a big step forward Wednesday in its KJCCC opener against Garden City Community College, rolling to a 97-66 victory inside Arley Bryant Gymnasium.
"I thought it was a real good win and our biggest win of the year so far," said Cloud County head coach, Brett Erkenbrack. "Certainly, because it was the first conference game, but Garden City is a good ballclub and a dangerous ballclub."
The 97 points were a season-high for the T-Birds (8-2 overall, 1-0 KJCCC), as was their sizzling 60 percent (33-of-55) shooting performance from the field against the Lady Broncbusters (4-5 overall, 0-1 KJCCC).
Five different players scored in double-figures, led by sophomore forward Cassidy Haufler with 18 points and eight rebounds.
Sophomore forward Scout Frame added 13 points and six rebounds, while Cloud County also received key contributions from sophomore forward Destiny Pittman (10 points), sophomore guard Kamryn Collins (15 points) and freshman guard Emmiley Hendrixson (17 points five assists).
Collins and Frame were each main cogs in a 19-1 run the T-Birds put together to end the first quarter, with each scoring nine points, turning an 8-8 game at the 5:33 mark into a 27-9 lead.
"I thought we played some pretty good defense, we were rebounding the basketball well," said Erkenbrack of the 19-1 run. "Kamryn Collins made some big plays, hit some threes and we just got a lot of contributions from people."
Cloud County's one struggle Wednesday was with its 27 turnovers, with a handful coming on in-bounds passes against Garden City's full-court press.
But once the ball was in-bounds, the T-Birds were able to carve up the 1-3-1 defense of the Broncbusters, finishing with 23 assists on 33 made baskets, led by seven dimes from freshman guard Chiara De Virgilio.
"We had an idea that it was coming," said Erkenbrack of the 1-3-1 defense. "We handled it well once we got the ball in-bounds. We certainly struggled inbounding the ball in the full-court press a few times, but I thought we made some really nice passes in the open floor and made some nice passes, finished plays in the half-court."
Garden City hung around thanks to a 34-point third quarter, inching as close as 13 points as late as 71-56, but Cloud County quickly ballooned the lead back out with a 26-10 scoring advantage in the fourth.
Cloud County will look to build off Wednesday's positive performance when it heads on the road Saturday to face an always talented Seward County Community College, now under the direction of Austin Mefford. Former Saints head coach Toby Wynn is now with Emporia State University.
Tip-off for Saturday's clash is scheduled for 6 p.m. in Liberal, Kansas.
"It's a new coach, so a little different situation out there, but a lot of the same players from last year," Erkenbrack said. "Certainly a very talented ballclub and we'll have to play well. But we are getting better. I like what we're doing on both ends of the floor and I thought our defense, even though we fouled a lot, we took a pretty good step forward (Wednesday). We're truly getting better and hopefully we can carry that momentum on to Saturday."