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Late Surge Powers Dragons Past Thunderbirds

By Hutchinson CC Sports Information


HUTCHINSON, Kan. – The Hutchinson Community College men’s basketball team withstood a Cloud County second-half surge to earn a Jayhawk Conference victory over the Thunderbirds on Sunday at the Sports Arena.

The Blue Dragon defense forced 27 Thunderbird turnovers and pulled away from a tied game in the final 1 minute, 50 seconds to defeat Cloud County 88-82.

The Blue Dragons improved to 13-6 overall and 7-6 in the Jayhawk while splitting the season series with the Thunderbirds and snapping a three-game losing streak to Cloud County. The Blue Dragons play host to Pratt at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday at the Sports Arena. Cloud County is now 12-8 overall and 8-6 in the KJCCC

The Dragons led by as many as 14 points, holding a 57-43 lead with 14:31 to play in the second half. Cloud County shot 60 percent in the second half and ultimately tied the game at 80-80 with 2:17 to play. Steele Gaston-Chapman scored with 1:50 to play, but Corey Sawyer tied the game at 82-all with 1:22 to play.

The Blue Dragons scored the final six points of the game, getting the go-ahead bucket from Jayden Garrison with 39 seconds to play. The Dragons got a defensive stop and Aaron Franklin scored in transition with 13 seconds to play to make it a two-possession lead. Franklin then hit two free throws with 3 seconds to play to close out the victory.

Franklin and Jayden Garrison combined for 37 points to lead the Blue Dragons.

Franklin had 19 points on 3 of 10 shooting from 3-point range. Garrison scored 13 of his 18 points in the second half. Garrison knocked down 4 of 11 from 3-point range.

Sophomore Ra’Sean Frederick had 13 points on 6 of 9 shooting. Freshman Antonio Green scored eight points. Kernan Bundy and Cristian Carroll added seven points each.

The Blue Dragons shot 45.8 percent for the game (33 of 72), hitting 12 of 37 from 3-point range and 10 of 16 from the free-throw line.

Defensively, the Blue Dragons forced 27 turnovers and outscored Cloud County 25-19 in points off turnovers. The Dragons outrebounded Cloud County 34-24 and 16-4 on offensive rebounds to create a 24-4 advantage in points off turnovers.

Sawyer had 26 points to lead the Thunderbirds. Cheikh Sow had 19 points.

Cloud County shot 59.2 percent (29 of 49) from the floor. The Thunderbirds were just 1 of 11 from 3-point range and 23 of 30 at the free-throw line.

Cloud County scored the first eight points of the game. Frederick stopped that run with a 3-pointer with 16:41 to play. Trailing 18-16, The Blue Dragons took their first lead on a Carroll 3-pointer with 13:07 to go. Buckets by Bundy and Dre Weathers upped the Hutchinson lead to 23-18 with 11:47 left in the first half.

A Garrison 3-pointer started a 10-2 run and built a 35-23 lead after a Kieran Carr field goal with 5:59 to play. Cloud County cut the Dragon lead to seven late in the first half, but Garrison hit a 3-pointer to give the Dragons a 47-34 halftime lead.

The second half was a half of runs. Hutchinson had a 5-0 run to open a 57-43 lead after a Frederick layup with 14:31 to play after a Franklin basket. The Thunderbirds answered with an 8-0 run to pull within 57-51 after two Ja’Ron Briggs free throws with 12:03 to go.

Hutchinson then scored five unanswered with two Bundy free throws and a Garrison 3-pointer to build a 62-51 lead with 10:56 to play. The Thunderbirds countered with a 15-2 run to pull within 64-61 after a Briggs layup with 8:03 to play. Carr snapped that run with a 3-pointer at the 7:34 mark.

Franklin nailed a 3-pointer with 3:31 to play to give the Dragons an 80-75 lead, but Cloud scored five unanswered points to knot the score at 80-all with 2:17 to play.

The Dragons pulled away with a 10-2 run to close the game, scoring the final eight points of the contest over the final 39 seconds.

GAME NOTES – This was all-time win No. 1,888 for the Blue Dragons … Head coach Tommy DeSalme earned his 40th victory on the Blue Dragon bench. … The Dragons are now 56-21 all-time against Cloud County, including 33-5 at the Sports Arena. … The Blue Dragons now have 235 3-pointers through 20 games this season, which remains No. 4 on the all-time season list. … Cloud County’s Corey Sawyer and an individual opponent high 14 free throws. … The Dragons are 8-2 at home and 10-2 when leading at halftime. … Jayden Garrison has scored 64 points in his last three games.