When Cloud County head women's basketball coach Brett Erkenbrack flew out onto the court, screamed at the officials and was hit with a technical foul with three minutes to play and his T-Birds down 52-47, the host Garden City Broncbusters looked to be in prime position to seal their fifth-consecutive win.
But the Busters never got the two technical free throws they thought were coming their way, and here's why:
On the possession preceding Erkenbrack's court storming, the Broncbusters threw up a shot as the shot clock was about to expire that didn't hit the rim and caromed off the backboard, and the shot clock was reset. The T-Birds grabbed the rebound, and the Busters stole the ball back. Erkenbrack was then hit with the technical as he subsequently argued that the shot clock would have gone off in the split-second between the ball hitting the backboard and the Cloud County player gaining possession, had the clock not been reset. That, he argued, would have nullified the Busters’ ensuing steal, the T-Birds would have had possession, and Erkenbrack's technical would never have happened.
The officials agreed, awarded possession to Cloud County and rescinded the technical against Erckenbrack.
That came back to haunt the Busters, as Cloud County hit two 3-pointers in the final minute of play, including a buzzer-beater by Camille Awn Baud that handed the Busters a heartbreaking 53-52 loss.
“(The officials) went to the table and asked the table if (the shot clock) was inadvertently reset, and they told them it was,” Erckenbrack said after the emotional win. “And I appreciate that, because it was, and that was my point. I know I went out on the floor, but that’s the game right there, in my mind. That possession is so important. I couldn’t let time run off and let them end up scoring or something. I had to get that thing stopped.”
GCCC head coach Charinee Mitchell voiced her displeasure at the decision to nullify the technical, but was measured in her response post-game.
“I said, ‘He was all the way at half-court. You tech’d him,’” Mitchell said she told the refs. “I was already sending somebody to the line.”
Mitchell said she had never seen a technical rescinded before.
“I know when I get tech’d, I get them,” she said. “They don’t ever rescind mine.”
Mitchell, however, was quick to put the spotlight on the Busters’ mistakes as the reason for the loss, which dropped them to 15-10 overall and 12-9 in the KJCCC.
“We just took a step back tonight,” Mitchell said. “At the end of the day, they just didn’t have the energy.”
A baseline screen on an in-bounds play by the T-Birds (16-8, 13-8) got Kelsi Mueller wide open in the corner for a 3-pointer with 40 seconds left that brought Cloud County to within 53-51.
The diminutive Mueller — who at Moscow High School led her team to a 2016 state runner-up finish — was explosive all game, scoring 21 points, including 4-of-8 from 3-point range.
Mitchell bemoaned the Busters' defensive lapse on Mueller's 3-pointer.
“That shouldn’t happen,” Mitchell said.
Then, on the Busters’ next possession, they played keep away from a Cloud defense that was half trying to foul and half playing regular defense. It worked for the entirety of the shot clock, but Jada Washington only got off a desperation 3-pointer that didn’t draw rim and gave the T-Birds the ball back on the shot clock violation.
Cloud took a timeout to move the ball up to half-court, then inbounded to Awa Baud. Despite Kelcy McHenry playing tight defense, Baud’s game-winning 3 hit nothing but net.
The loss snaps a four-game winning streak for the Busters, and with the way it ended, it was hard to take.
This one hurt “bad,” Mitchell said.
“I know that’s painful to Garden City, but in my mind, that’s 100 percent the right call,” Erckenbrack said of the reversal of the technical. “I applaud the officials for getting it right. I believe they got it right.”
Cloud County and Garden City came into the day tied for sixth in the KJCCC, but Cloud County now takes sole possession of the slot, one game behind Butler for fifth. Garden City is now seventh, one game ahead of Coffeyville.
The first half was the Mueller show as she scored 10 of the T-Birds’ first 12 points, sinking a pair of deep 3-pointers and then driving past the inching up Buster defense for a couple of lay ins.
The Busters were able to match her shot for shot behind the offensive explosion of Abi Green, who went 3 of 4 from behind the arc in the first half. Two of those 3-pointers gave the Busters leads, while her steal and breakaway layup at the end of the half gave the Busters a 25-22 lead at the break.
Green finished with a game-high 28 points on 10-of-19 shooting.
The Busters hit the road to play Pratt at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Contact J. Levi Burnfin at firstname.lastname@example.org.