GARDEN CITY – Despite overcoming a 10-point halftime deficit to lead by seven with 3:59 remaining, the Cloud County Community College men's basketball team would see 16 of the game's final 22 points scored by host Garden City Community College to fall by a final score of 88-85 inside of Conestoga Arena in Garden City on Wednesday.
Dropping their Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference opener, Cloud County is now 5-3 overall and 0-1 in the KJCCC while the Broncbusters improved to 7-3 overall and 1-0 following a victory in their conference opener.
After a layup to open the game from sophomore Iyen Enaruna, Cloud County would go 4:24 before their basket while seeing Garden City score the next 11 points to take an 11-2 lead. Enaruna would connect on a three to break the scoring drought as the long range shot would be working in the early going for the T-Birds. GCCC's lead would stand at nine at 20-11 with 11:20 remaining before Michael Ozomah would pull Cloud County back within six at 20-14 following a made triple.
Sami Sanad would close the gap for CCCC to a single point at 23-22 following a layup with 8:39 remaining as Chad Vincent-Simon would give Cloud County the lead once again 21 seconds later. The next two minutes of action would feature five lead changes as Garden City would see Tahlik Chavez hit four threes on four consecutive possessions to give the Broncbusters a 37-31 lead heading into the final five minutes of the first half. Cloud County would be unable to cut into the lead down the stretch as Garden City would grab a 44-34 halftime lead over the T-Birds.
Three straight triples on their first three possessions of the second half would allow Cloud County to pull within three at 46-43 1:18 into the period before seeing GCCC use a 6-2 run to go up 52-45 two minutes later. A 7-1 T-Bird run pulled CCCC within one at 53-52 before tying things up at 54-54 at the 13:25 mark following a pair of Denzel Ndongosi free throws. Ozomah would give Cloud County the lead at 60-59 at the midway point of the second half with the lead growing to five at 68-63 with 7:38 remaining.
Over the course of the next four minutes, Cloud County would add to their lead and go up 79-72 following a DJ Sims made three and would threaten to pull away heading into the final stretch of the game. A made Jay Lewis layup with 3:25 remaining put the score at 81-73 in favor of the T-Birds before seeing an 8-0 run by Garden City tie things at 81-81 with 1:48 left in the game. Lewis would give Cloud County the lead one last time with a layup on the ensuing possession before seeing GCCC get a free throw and made three on their next two possessions to go up 85-83 with 49 seconds left. Ndongosi would work his way in the paint for a bucket to tie the game at 85-85 with 32 seconds remaining, but an aggressive pace by the Broncbusters would put Chavez on the line where he would hit on a pair of free throws and add another free throw following an empty possession from the T-Birds to go up 88-85 with three seconds remaining. The T-Birds would get one final chance to tie the game but would never be able to get a shot off as a turnover would end the game.
Cloud County would hit on 47 percent (31-of-66) of their shots while also going 11-for-22 (50 percent) from beyond the arc and 12-of-16 (75 percent) from the free throw line. Garden City would make a living at the charity stripe, going to the line 39 times and hitting on 24 (61.5 percent) while also holding a slim 40-39 advantage in rebounds.
Leading the T-Birds would be 22 points and three assists from Lewis while Enaruna would add 16 points and 13 rebounds in 25 minutes of work. Ndongosi would score 11 off the bench while Chad Vincent-Simon would score 10 points and assist on two buckets for CCCC.
Returning home for the first time in four games, Cloud County will host Seward County Community College for an 8 p.m. contest on Saturday. The Saints are 5-2 overall and 0-1 in the KJCCC following a 71-67 home defeat to Butler Community College on Tuesday night in Liberal.