State Colleges

Cloud surprises Hutch women

Ten minutes after their 46-45 win over Hutchinson Community College in Monday's Region VI women's basketball title game, the cheering had begun to die down in the Cloud locker room.

Their coach, Brett Erkenbrack, still hadn't seen his team, though.

Once his hand hit the locker-room door and it swung open, he got the reception of a rock star, the ruckus from which could be heard up and down the Koch Arena corridor.

"I suppose that's why you do it right there, I suppose that's why any of us coaches do what we do," said an emotional Erkenbrack. "To go in there and see them for the first time, as champions, knowing all that they've went through the last six or seven months... those moments are what you take with you forever."

Klara Wischer hit one of two free throws with 52 seconds left to give Erkenbrack and the Thunderbirds their first Region VI title since 2001, when they also brought home the NJCAA title. It was also Erkenbrack's first win in nine tries against Hutchinson coach John Ontjes.

"I had to compose myself because my mind was racing," Wischer said of the free throws. "We knew we hadn't played our best in the two times they beat us."

The Blue Dragons defeated Cloud 83-53 in both teams' regular-season finale on Feb. 26 in Hutchinson.

"Our mentality going into the game was that we'd beat them by 30 points the last time we played them," Ontjes said. "I tried to tell our team that (Cloud) had all the motivation in the world coming into this game."

Jackie Patterson, the Region VI Tournament MVP, led the Blue Dragons with 15 points and 11 rebounds. No player for Cloud scored in double digits and the Thunderbirds were outrebounded 45-26.

Cloud begins play in the NJCAA tournament March 15 in Salina.

CLOUD (25-7): DeHayward 1-4 7-7 9, Wischer 2-11 2-3 6, Mansilla 2-5 0-0 6, Parker 0-0 0-0 0, Russell 1-3 2-2 4, Griswold 3-8 2-4 8, Taylor 2-9 2-5 8, Schuetz 2-6 1-2 5. Totals 13-46 16-23 46.

HUTCHINSON (30-3): Hirsh 0-1 0-0 0, Small 3-6 0-0 6, Barlow 3-12 3-4 10, Lee 0-0 0-0 0, Blakesley 1-7 0-0 2, Sander 2-2 0-0 6, Nuzum 1-9 0-0 2, Cornwell 0-1 2-2 2, Lawrence 0-2 2-2 2, Patterson 4-9 7-8 15. Totals 14-49 14-16 45.

Halftime-Cloud 24-21. 3-point shooting-Hutchinson 3-18 (Sander 2-2, Barlow 1-5, Small 0-3, Blakesley 0-3, Nuzum 0-2, Hirsh 0-1, Lawrence 0-1, Patterson 0-1); Cloud 4-14 (Mansilla 2-3, Taylor 2-7, Schuetz 0-2, DeHayward 0-1, Wischer 0-1). Rebounds-Hutchinson 45 (Patterson 11); Cloud 26 (Wischer 5). Assists-Hutchinson 10 (Nuzum 3); Cloud 10 (DeHayward 3, Wischer 3). Fouls-Hutchinson 19, Cloud 14.

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