CONCORDIA, Kansas — The Cloud County Community College women's basketball team completed an incredible come-from-behind victory Wednesday evening against Dodge City Community College to keep its season alive, storming back from a 14-point deficit to win a thrilling 70-61 overtime game in the first round of the Region VI Playoffs.
Cloud County (18-12 overall) never led during the 40 minutes of regulation and lived to tell about it, scratching and clawing their way back to force overtime before dominating the extra period by outscoring a pesky Dodge City team (14-17 overall), 18-9, over the final five minutes.
"It's a great win for us, certainly. Back in December, I remember saying I was glad we didn't have to play Dodge City again after playing them here (67-58 win on Dec. 7)," said Cloud County head coach, Brett Erkenbrack said. "We didn't play well in the first half, or start the second half off very well, but to battle back and win I couldn't be happier and prouder of our group. That's the best win we've had all year, in my mind, because we really had to battle."
The T-Birds, who have now won 29 straight games against Dodge City dating back to the 2004-05 season, punched their ticket to the second round of the Region VI Playoffs where they will match up against No. 1 seed Seward County Community College at 1 p.m. Saturday inside Hartman Arena in Wichita.
Cloud County trailed 18-9 after the first quarter and 30-20 at the break, shooting just 28 percent (8-of-29) from the floor while allowing Dodge City to score eight second-chance points on 11 offensive rebounds.
"The first 20 or 30 minutes of the game we seemed like we were dazed and confused and weren't sure what it is we were trying to do," Erkenbrack said. "Then as the game progressed and we got ahold of it, and I think that stretch in overtime is the first time we got ahold of it all night to close it out, it was wonderful. Just a great win for us… March Madness is no fun if you don't get to play in March."
Redshirt freshman Kamryn Collins scored 12 of those 20 first-half points to keep the T-Birds' afloat en route to her best game in a Cloud County uniform, finishing with her first career double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
"Kamryn kept us in it in the first half. She was really about all that we had," Erkenbrack said. "Her 10 rebounds were outstanding. I asked her before the game if she could be relied on and she said 'Yeah' without hesitation. We relied on her (Wednesday). She made a bunch of big plays not just offensively, but the steal she got there late in overtime was huge. That might have been Kamryn's best ballgame of the year and I'm really happy for her."
After inching back within six to start the fourth quarter, sophomore forward Scout Frame took over as she scored 12 of her game-high 22 points in the quarter, including a three-point play with 1:55 remaining that pulled Cloud County even with the Conquistadors at 50-50.
"Scout really got us going there in the third and fourth quarter," Erkenbrack said. "We ran some stuff for her and she hit some tough baskets."
Dodge City briefly took a 52-50 lead, but freshman guard Emmiley Hendrixson answered with a driving layup with 45 ticks remaining for two of her 13 points to force the game into overtime.
In the overtime period, Frame and Collins each scored five points, with the T-Birds' first lead of the ballgame coming at the 4:45 mark on a drive by Collins.
Hendrixson put Cloud County on top for good at 56-54 with a layup at the 2:24 mark. Freshman Chase Siedlik, who score eight of her 11 points in overtime, and Collins then delivered the daggers on the next two ensuing possessions.
Siedlik drilled a corner 3-pointer with 1:35 remaining that made it a two-possession game at 59-54. Just 16 seconds later, Collins poked the ball free at halfcourt, drew a foul and made a pair of free throws to tie a bow on the 70-61 final.
"I'm so happy our young people get the opportunity to go to Wichita and play in the real tournament atmosphere of Region VI basketball," Erkenbrack said. "I'm really happy for our sophomores for sure to be able to get down there and have an opportunity to be seen, and it's a great experience for our freshmen, as well."
Not lost in the shuffle of Wednesday's wild victory was the history made by Frame, who moved into sole possession of fourth place in Cloud County's all-time scoring list with 989 points. Her 15 rebounds on Wednesday also made her just the sixth women's basketball player in school history to eclipse 500 career rebounds (501).
"Those numbers speak for themselves. There are not many people, and we've had a lot of great players here the last 40 or 50 years, to be able to score almost 1,000 points and over 500 rebounds," Erkenbrack said. "That's amazing. That says a lot about what she's been able to do. And at her size, that's a lot of determination and guts. She's developed some game too. She shoots the ball quite a bit better from the perimeter than when she got here. She's stronger and a lot better finisher at the basket. She's had quite a career."
Cloud County will now turn its attention toward its matchup against KJCCC West champion Seward County, set to tip at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Hartman Arena in Wichita.
The T-Birds fell 80-57 in their only meeting against the Lady Saints during the regular season back on Dec. 1.
"The first game out there back in December, I'd have to go back and look at the tape, but I'm going to say conservatively in the first quarter we missed six layups, maybe more. We did not convert on easy opportunities out there when we played them the first time," Erkenbrack said. "Against a good ballclub like Seward, which beat Hutchinson both times and won the KJCCC West, we can't make mistakes. We have to limit our turnovers to a really low number, we have to be able to hold our own on the boards, and not let them go on seven, eight or nine-point runs on us."