By Mike Pilosof
Concordia, KS-Garden City first-year Head Coach Charinee Mitchell takes little stock in moral victories, even after her team went toe-to-toe with perennial power Hutchinson on Saturday.
On Wednesday, the Broncbusters drew the second-best team in the conference. And despite outplaying the Thunderbirds for most of the night, Garden City suffered a similar fate.
Scout Frame posted her third double-double of the season with 19 points and 14 rebounds, Carrie Davis scored 16 off the bench including two clinching free throws late, and Cloud County stormed back to beat Garden City 65-61 at Arley Bryant Gymnasium.
"We are still learning about a lot of things," Mitchell said. "It's not just one thing; there are a lot of things that have to happen. Right now, things are still a bit off."
Playing shorthanded again, Garden City (5-6, 3-5) was the aggressor early. An 8-1 run capped by Jada Washington's dazzling layup put the Broncbusters up 8-4, four minutes into the opening period. Eventually Cloud County (10-1, 7-1) tilted things back in their favor, and Kelsi Mueller's 3-pointer gave the Thunderbirds the lead heading into the second. Garden City went the final 5:19 of the first without a field goal.
"We knew we were struggling shooting the ball coming in," Mitchell said. "That's why it's so important that we are lively on the defensive end. And I think, for the most part, we played pretty well there. But we just have to put it all together."
The lead changed hands four times in the second period with Garden City having the last laugh. Kala Jones hit two free throws, Aerianna Steinmetz knocked down a jumper; then setup Jones on a beautiful dish to finish the half, closing the quarter on a 6-0 run to take a 31-26 lead into the intermission.
That run continued into the third period when Abigail Green drilled a line-drive 3-pointer from the top of the key that gave the Broncbusters their largest lead, 34-26. But everything changed from there. Cloud County outscored Garden City 19-9 in the quarter, and closed the stanza on a 7-0 to turn an eight-point deficit into a five-point edge going into the fourth.
"College basketball is a game of runs," Mitchell said. "That's something that we preached to our kids. And it was just Cloud's time to make that run."
The Thunderbirds advantage swelled to eight three minutes into the final quarter once Davis canned a deep 2-pointer that made it 50-42. It was a 10-point game with 2:01 left.
"Our girls don't quit; that much we know," Mitchell said. "There's not a lot of negatives from this game. I mean we didn't really turn it over. Cloud just made a strong push."
Talia Roberts though nearly stole the game by herself.
The freshman spearheaded a 10-1 run with back-to-back triples that made it a one-point game with 22 seconds remaining. But the dagger came once Frame went to the line for Cloud County. After the freshman hit the first free throw, she clanged the second one off the left rim. But no one boxed out Kennedy Gay, who secured the offensive rebound before dishing out on the wing for Davis who was hacked. The 31-percent foul shooter splashed home two freebies, and the Thunderbirds beat the Broncbusters for the fifth straight time.
Cloud County won the game despite shooting just 33 percent from the field-their second worst performance of the season. Mueller and Tiana Johnson each had nine points, while Camille Awa Baud chipped in eight.
Shakendra Tilley scored 12 of her team-best 14 points in the first half for Garden City, who dropped to 1-5 on the road this season. Washington had 13, and Roberts finished with 12.
Next up: Garden City vs. Pratt-Saturday, Dec. 9-5:45 p.m. pregame; 6 p.m. tip on 98.1 FM; westernkansasnews.com/z98 and KSKZ mobile app