Late mistakes burn CCC women

March 5, 2019

Poor ball handling and rebounding down the stretch proved to be fatal for the Central Community College women in Monday’s 68-60 Region IX championship loss to North Platte Community College.

The Raiders turned it over on three straight trips with two minutes remaining in the game, gave up four offensive rebounds on one possession with under a minute to go and saw the season slip away after leading by as much as nine earlier in the fourth quarter.

CCC trailed by 10 at halftime, came out of the break on a 16-3 run for its first lead since 2-0 and took a six-point advantage into the final 10 minutes. When Maddie Davis hit a 3-pointer then Monica Brooks followed with a spin move and layup in the paint, it looked as if the Raiders might just run away with a double-digit win.

Though it had been a struggle most of the night, CCC already owned two wins over NPCC earlier this season and was seemingly on the path to a third before disaster struck.

The loss dropped the Raiders to 10-14 overall and ends their season at that mark. CCC had won five of the last seven including a 72-65 win over North Platte during that stretch.

The Knights’ Madisyn Francis led all players with 21 points and had seven of that total during the late stages when her side scored the final 13.

Monica Brooks was tops on the CCC roster with 14, 10 of which came in the second half. Three others scored in double digits: Isabel Diaz with 12, Day Gardner added 11 and Maddie Davis had 10.

Giveaways bookended the Raiders’ troubles. They started with nine turnovers in the first quarter that led to six Knights points.

Five more came in the fourth quarter, three on back-to-back-to-back possessions with CCC up 60-55. Francis sank consecutive 3-pointers on two of those then hit 1 of 2 at the line in a 30-second turnaround that suddenly had North Platte leading 62-60.

A Raider miss followed by a Knights offensive rebound and foul call extended the NPCC lead to 64-60 on two free throws. One final turnover on a bad pass into the paint led to more free throws and six-point margin as time wound away.

The Knights hit 7 of 8 free throws down the stretch to ice it.

In addition to the 16-4 run to open the second half, CCC outscored NPCC 23-7 in the third quarter, all to no avail.

North Platte advances to the district championship on Saturday at home against United Tribes Tech.

The winner advances to the national tournament.

Nate Tenopir is the sports editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at sports@columbustelegram.com