GARDEN CITY – Trailing by eight to begin the fourth quarter, the Cloud County Community College women's basketball team would save their best quarter of the day for last with a 27-point fourth-quarter to battle back and win by a final score of 62-58 over Garden City Community College at Conestoga Arena on Wednesday.
With both teams playing in their Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference opener, the T-Birds picked up their second straight win to improve to 6-4 overall and 1-0 in the KJCCC while the Broncbusters fall to 4-5 overall and 0-1 in conference play.
Cloud County would come out ready to play, scoring the first seven points of the game while scoring 11 of the first 14 points of the game to grab a double-digit lead at 11-4. The defense for the T-Birds would see GCCC held to just two field goals in the first seven-plus minutes of play as the Broncbusters would close the deficit to 11-7 with 2:48 left in the quarter. It wouldn't take long however for Cloud County to push their lead back out to double-digits, scoring the final seven points of the quarter with three free throws and a pair of layups to go up 18-7 after 10 minutes of action.
The offense would go cold for the opening six minutes of the second quarter, seeing Garden City score the first 14 points of the period to go up 21-18 before Haven Hamilton would break the streak with a layup to pull the T-Birds back within a point at 21-20. GCCC's lead would wind up being pushed to six at 27-21 on a made Jaleah Bellany triple as Cloud County would score four of the final five points of the half with a pair of Faith Martin layups to trail 28-25 at halftime.
Both teams would trade a pair of buckets each to open the third quarter as the lead would grow throughout the quarter to Garden City's largest lead at 39-29 with 1:39 remaining in the quarter. The 10 point deficit would be cut down in the final seconds of the quarter with an Izabella Vazquez layup in Cloud County's final possession of the quarter to trail 43-35 going to the fourth.
Seven quick points in the opening 1:22 of the fourth would pull CCCC within a single-point at 43-42, but the T-Birds would be unable to tie things up until five minutes later at 49-49 with 3:20 remaining in the game. A pair of Alyssa Castilleja free throws would give Cloud County their first lead of the second half at 51-49 before seeing Garden City tie things back up at 51-51. Jacy Dalinghaus would connect on her first and only three of the game with 2:19 remaining to put the T-Birds up three as Castilleja would hit a three the next time down the floor as the Cloud County lead would grow to four at 57-53. Eight of the final 10 points of the game would be scored at the charity stripe as Cloud County would be able to match each of Garden City's scoring opportunities to pull out a come-from-behind road victory.
The turnover bug would find its way to CCCC as the T-Birds would be guilty of 41 turnovers compared to just 24 for the Broncbusters, but Cloud County would make up for it with a 49-32 advantage on the rebounding side of things. Free throws would also be advantageous for the T-Birds, going 22-for-29 (75.9 percent) from the charity stripe compared to just 14-of-20 (70.0 percent) for Garden City.
Three CCCC starters would work their way into double-figures, led by a game-high 15 points from LaKya Leslie who would also grab a team-best 13 rebounds. Haven Hamilton (12) and Alyssa Castilleja (10) also reached double-figures while Isabella Vazquez added nine points off the bench along with five rebounds and three assists.
The T-Birds will welcome their second nationally-ranked opponent to town in as many weeks when number 17 Seward County Community College will come to Arley Bryant Gymnasium for a 6 p.m. contest on Saturday. Seward County will enter Saturday's contest with a 6-2 overall record and 1-0 mark in the KJCCC after escaping with a 77-74 home win over Butler Community College in their conference opener on Tuesday night.