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Blue Dragons Grind Out Victory at Cloud County

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By Hutchinson CC Sports Information

 

CONCORDIA, Kan. – Leading by one point with just under 12 minutes to play in regulation, the No. 19-ranked Hutchinson Community College men’s basketball team went on a decisive 13-2 run to pull away from Cloud County on the Thunderbirds’ home floor Wednesday night.

BOX SCORE

The Blue Dragons shot 53.1 percent in the second half and defeated the Thunderbirds 82-73 in a defensive grind at Arley Bryant Gym.

Hutchinson won its sixth-straight game and improved to 10-1 overall and 6-0 in the Jayhawk Conference. The Blue Dragons play host to Cowley at 7:30 p.m. Saturday to close out the first semester.

Valentino Simon posted his second-straight double to lead the Blue Dragons. Simon had season highs of 21 points and 13 assists with four assists to lead the Blue Dragons in a season-high 29 minutes played.

Dre Weathers scored a career-high 20 points with seven rebounds and two blocked shots. Weathers had 14 points in the first half.

The Blue Dragon defense had one of its best performances of the season against the Thunderbirds, holding Cloud County to 38.6 percent shooting (22 of 57). The Thunderbirds committed 18 turnovers.

Hutchinson also blocked 14 shots, which is fourth most in Blue Dragon single-game history. Edwin Daniel blocked a career-high seven blocks, which ties for the seventh most by a Blue Dragon individual in a single game. Kamryn Thomas added tied a career high with three blocks.

Thomas and J.P. Ricks had 11 points each for Hutchinson. Dallas Whitney had nine points. Zoe Holman dished out a career-high seven assists.

Emmanuel Manyuon led Cloud County with 18 points. Cheikh Sow had 15 points. Isaiah Sy was 5 of 5 from 3-point range and added 15 points for the Thunderbirds.

Cloud County hit 7 of 15 from 3-point range and 22 of 31 from the foul line.

Playing against the third-best defensive team in the NJCAA, the Blue Dragons shot only 35.5 percent in the opening half, but never let Cloud County get away from them. Cloud County led 10-5 with 13:10 to play in the first half. The Dragons went without a field goal and had just two free throws over a span of 6 minutes, 14 seconds.

Thomas snapped that drought with a 3-pointer with 12:45 remaining and went on a 6-0 run to take an 11-10 lead after a Whitney 3-pointer with 12:14 to play in the half.

Cloud County again built a four-point lead at 17-13, but the Dragons answered taking a 24-23 lead on a Simon layup with 5:37 to play in the half. A Weathers’ dunk with 4:36 to go gave Hutchinson a 28-23 lead. With Hutchinson leading 31-26, Cloud County went on a 6-0 run to take a 32-31 lead with 1:16 to play.

The Dragons again answered. Whitney’s dunk with 1:03 to play gave the Dragons the lead back. Kernan Bundy had a steal and dunk and Holman hit 1 of 2 free throws in the final minute to give Hutchinson a 36-32 lead at halftime.

The Blue Dragons had two early seven-point leads in the second half. Cloud County was able to get within on point on three different occasions at 48-47, 50-49 and 55-54 with 11:21 to play in the second half.

Simon had a putback with 10:17 to play which sparked the decisive juncture of the game. Simon was fouled on the putback and hit the free throw and the Weathers scored on a short jump for a 60-54 lead. That started a 13-2 run, which was capped by a Bundy transition layup for a 68-56 lead with 6:55 remaining.

Cloud County got the lead down to seven on four different occasions, the final one at 77-70 with 39 seconds to play. Thomas clinched the game with a dunk and the Dragons hit 3 of 4 from the free-throw line in the final 26 seconds to secure the victory.

GAME NOTES – Valentino Simon posted his 21st career double-double and reached the 400-career rebound mark (400). … The Dragons earned all-time victory No. 1,904. … Edwin Daniel is the first Blue Dragons with at least seven blocks in a game since Fred Odhiambo’s nine blocks against Dodge City on Feb. 13, 2019. He has 13 blocks in his last two games. … The Dragons have 26 blocked shots in their last two games and four games of 10 or more blocked shots this season. … The Dragons are 57-21 all-time against Cloud County, including 18-16 in Concordia. … J.P. Ricks broke the 200-career point mark (210 points). … The Dragons had their seventh game of 10 or more steals.

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