CHANUTE, Kansas — The Cloud County Community College women's basketball team showed signs Wednesday that it is close to breaking out of the funk that has followed the team much of January, storming back from a double-digit halftime and fourth quarter deficits to give themselves a chance to win on the road against Neosho County Community College.
Unfortunately for the T-Birds, their efforts came up a little short in an 88-85 loss to the Panthers.
A main culprit in Wednesday's result was a porous first half that saw Cloud County (14-9 overall, 7-7 KJCCC) fall behind 52-41 at the break to Neosho County (7-16 overall, 4-9 KJCCC).
"If you give up 52 points on the road in the first half, you're going to be playing uphill most of the night and we were," said Cloud County head coach, Brett Erkenbrack.
The deficit remained at 11 entering the fourth quarter at 71-60 before the T-Birds began their climb back, inching as close as two at 80-78 with 1:42 remaining on a basket from sophomore forward Scout Frame, who poured in a game-high 28 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
Her front court mate Cassidy Haufler also posted a double-double with 23 points and 13 rebounds to help carry the offensive load.
Cloud County had a chance to force overtime, inbounding the ball with 6.1 seconds remaining to freshman guard Emmiley Hendrixson, the third T-Bird in double-figures with 12 points Wednesday on four made 3-pointers, but her potential game-tying shot was just off the mark.
"We got the ball where we wanted it and Emmiley made a nice shot fake to get the defender off her feet," Erkenbrack said. "She maybe rushed the shot a little bit, but it was the shot that we wanted under the circumstances."
Cloud County again received solid complimentary production from sophomore forward Mikaela Meyers off the bench with seven points, two steals, six rebounds and three assists, while the guard tandem of Kamryn Collins and Chase Siedlik each added two steals, as well.
The T-Birds outshot the Panthers on Wednesday, finishing 34-of-82 (42 percent) to Neosho County's 31-of-83 (37 percent), but lost the turnover battle, 24-18.
While the loss was disappointing, giving Cloud County a 4-5 mark in the month of January, Erkenbrack said he was encouraged with the effort and fire shown by his team in the fourth quarter Wednesday.
"I think we played well enough to win in the fourth quarter and that was encouraging to see us compete and give ourselves an opportunity," Erkenbrack said. "We certainly played harder and competed better in the fourth quarter (Wednesday) than we have in awhile and we can win with that kind of effort."
Cloud County will get to enjoy the weekend off with its bye week before returning to action after the calendar flips to February next Wednesday at home against Butler Community College. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.
It'll be Blackout Night inside Arley Bryant Gymnasium, with fans encouraged to wear their favorite black Cloud County apparel items.
"The bye weekend comes at a good time for us, as good of time as any," Erkenbrack said. "Hopefully we'll get rested up and recharged."