HCC women take charge

The No. 3 nationally ranked Hutchinson Community College women's basketball team claimed sole possession of first place in the Jayhawk West on Wednesday night and claimed their 94th consecutive home-court win after defeating league rival Cloud County 81-58 on Wednesday night at the Sports Arena.
The Lady Dragons (18-0, 4-0 Jayhawk West) are the lone remaining unbeaten team in Jayhawk West play after back-to-back wins over No. 9 Seward County last Saturday and Cloud County on Wednesday. HCC won its 19th-consecutive game dating back to last season and earned its sixth-straight victory over Cloud County.
Sinking 7 of its first 11 shot attempts, Cloud County (12-7, 3-1) built an 18-12 lead just 6 minutes, 10 seconds into the game. Led by freshman Chelsea Dewey's 11 first-half points, the Lady Dragons rallied and closed the half on a 10-0 run to lead 40-35 at halftime. Hutchinson held Cloud County to just six field goals and outscored the Thunderbirds 41-23 in the second half.
Sophomore Jamie Patrick jumped two spots on the Hutchinson career scoring list to No. 13 with 20 points on 8 of 16 shooting. She also had three rebounds, three steals and two assists. Patrick now has 799 career points.
Sophomore point guard Jen'Von'Ta Hill had another tremendous night with 18 points, five rebounds, seven assists and a career-high seven steals. Hill became the fifth Lady Dragon all-time to reach 250 career assists.
Dewey helped the Lady Dragons achieve a 33-8 points-off-the-bench advantage with 15 points, hitting a season-high 3 of 4 3-pointers.
Freshman Kalani Purcell posted her sixth double-double of the season with 14 points and 13 rebounds.
Hutchinson shot 50 percent or better for the eighth time this season at 50.8 percent (31 of 61). The Lady Dragons were 5 of 12 from 3-point range and 14 of 22 from the free-throw line. Hutchinson out-rebounded Cloud County 32-28.
Despite the fast start, Cloud County was the 120th straight opponent which failed to reach 50 percent shooting. The Thunderbirds shot 35.2 percent (19 of 54), missing 31 of their final 43 shot attempts after starting 7 of 11. Cloud was 4 of 17 from 3-point range and 16 of 19 from the free-throw line. The Thunderbirds committed 21 turnovers.
Courtney Fisher had 15 team-high points to lead Cloud County. She also had five rebounds and two steals. Raneisha Duncan had 14 points, eight assists and six rebounds. Jayna Smith had 10 points. Cloud's leading scorer, Jordyn Alexander, finished with 11 points, nine points below her season average.
HCC's leading-leading defense took an early hit with Cloud County putting up 20 points in the first 7 minutes, 39 seconds. The Thunderbirds got a couple of early 3-pointers from Duncan and when Alexander scored inside with 13:50 remaining in the half, Cloud County had its largest lead at 18-12.
Dewey knocked down a pair of 3s and kept Hutchinson in the game. The Lady Dragons cut the deficit to one point five times in the first half, only to be denied the lead each time. Alexander's three-point play with 5:49 to play gave Cloud a 30-26 lead. The Lady Dragons finally erased the deficit and tied the game for the first time when Briana Starks hit a jumper from 12 feet and Hill's steal and layup knotted the score at 30-30 with 4:08 remaining in the first half.
Cloud County denied HCC the lead again with five unanswered points and took a 35-30 lead after a Smith field goal at the 2:59 mark. Dewey stopped that run with her third 3-pointer of the half and ignited a 10-0 Lady Dragon run to close the half, holding Cloud County without a field goal for the final 2:59 of the half. Purcell hit one of two free throws with 22 seconds to play and HCC took a 40-35 halftime lead.
HCC rallied in the first half shooting 53.3 percent (16 of 30).
Cloud County scored the first two points of the second half with two Alexander free throws, but Hutchinson answered quickly with a Starks' jumper and back-to-back 3-pointers from Patrick and Hill to push HCC's lead to double figures for the first time at 48-37 with 16:45 remaining.
Cloud's Tai Nittler's 3-pointer pulled Cloud County within 50-42 with 15:33 to play. The Lady Dragons then went on a 9-0 run to take full control of the game, building a 59-42 lead after two Patrick free throws with 12:12 remaining.
HCC's largest lead of the game was 81-54 with 1:15 to play.
The Lady Dragons held Cloud County to 6 of 25 shooting overall, just 1 of 7 from 3-point range.
Hutchinson will play its next two games on the road. HCC travels to Pratt for a 6 p.m. game on Saturday at the Dennis Lesh Sports Arena.
GAME NOTES - The Lady Dragons are 37-23 in 60 clashes with Cloud County, 16-10 at the Sports Arena. … HCC's 18-0 start is the fourth best in team history. … The Lady Dragons are 8-0 when shooting 50 percent or better. … This was the 12th time this season for HCC to force 20 or more opponent turnovers. … HCC out-scored Cloud County 28-8 in points off turnovers. … This was Jamie Patrick's seventh 20-point game this season. … Cloud County's Raneisha Duncan's eight assists were a season high by an HCC opposing player. … This was Chelsea Dewey's first game scoring in double figures in seven games. … This was Kalani Purcell's eighth game of 10 or more rebounds. … Freshman Sydney Benoit played for the first time in 12 games.