Dodge City Conquistadors freshman guard George Brock doesn't lack any confidence and he showed why in 4.4 seconds Saturday night at United Wireless Arena.
Brock took the inbounds pass after Cloud County had tied the game with two free throws, raced down the court and had hit NBA-distance 3-pointer rattle in the basket to give the Conquistadors an 81-78 in the Jayhawk Conference opener for both teams.
Brock's buzzer beater closed out the rally for Dodge City and the freshman said he knew it was going in when the shot was released.
"I live for shots like that," Brock said. "The coaches told us to keep digging and told me to dribble down the court and do what you do."
Dodge City overcame a horrific shooting first half by going 18-of-30 from the field after intermission and scored 57 points after trailing by 10 at halftime. The Conqs were 10-of-17 from 3-point range for the game (including 5-of-6 in the second half).
"We told them everything they did wrong they could control: their energy, their effort, their attitude," said Dodge City head coach Kyle Campbell. "We told them as bad as we played (in the first half) we're still in the game. The second half could have gone either way. We could have lost by 30 or fight ourselves back into the game. Hopefully those guys understand that now about how hard they have to play in the conference because it's going to be a dogfight night in and night out."
The Conqs (12-5, 1-0) had lost four of their last five games and Campbell said the victory could be a growing experience for the freshmen; especially after the loss of Delvon Rencher, Dodge City's only returning sophomore, after a broken foot before Wednesday's loss at Northwest Kansas.
"All of those mistakes are glaring when you lose four of five," Campbell said. "When we were 10-1, we didn't have these problems. Everybody was playing with each other and everything was going well. When things got tough, the guys got down. It was a stretch when those guys have to grow up and learn. I'm hoping they grew up.
"I knew there was going to be a stretch in the season when these guys were going to take some lumps. The thing that I like is that we have some young kids who like to fight for each other. Hopefully we can rattle off a couple of wins in a row."
Brock led six Conqs in double figure scoring with 16 points. E.J. Eaves added 15, Larry Beckett 13, Ameer Jackson 12, and Jelani Carpenter and Brett O'Neil scored 10 apiece in the win.
Lorenzo Dillard scored 19 to lead the Thunderbirds (8-9, 0-1) with Shaun Stewart added 16. Marvin Smith recorded a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds, and Emeka Okoronkwo also scored 12 in the loss.
Page 2 of 2 - Cloud scored the first six points and 14 of the first 17 after 4 1/2 minutes of play. Dodge City was able to cut the deficit down to four a couple of times later in the half, but didn't score a point in the last three minutes before intermission and trailed 34-24.
The Conqs made only six of 29 shots — five of them 3-pointers — while Cloud went 13-of-37 with scoring 11 points off of turnovers.
Dodge City started its comeback by scoring 19 of the first 25 points after intermission, taking its first lead on a 3-pointer by Eaves. The Conqs led by as many as six points before the T-Birds before Cloud came back to tie the game at 67-67 with 3:01 remaining in regulation.
The game was tied at 74-74 going into the final 30 seconds left to set up the final fireworks in the game.
Eaves scored on a three-point play with 23.5 seconds remaining before Smith came back for Cloud on a lay-up eight seconds left. Brock hit a free throw to make the score 78-76 before two free throws by Stewart tied the game to set up Brock's winning shot.
The Conqs' next game will be against the Barton Cougars in Great Bend. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
CLOUD COUNTY (78) — Stewart 5-13 4-6 16, Dillard 5-21 9-12 19, Henry 0-2 0-0 0, Diop 1-2 0-0 2, Smith 4-11 4-7 12, Okoroonkwo 5-9 2-2 12, Shasi 0-1 0-0 0, Brinker 3-5 1-2 7, Gomis 2-4 0-0 4, Brooks 3-5 0-1 6. Totals 28-73 20-30 78.
DODGE CITY (81) — Brock 6-13 2-4 16, Jackson 3-8 4-6 12, Eaves 5-13 3-6 15, O'Neil 3-4 1-4 10, Duley 1-3 0-0 3, Clark 0-5 2-2 2, Beckett 5-11 3-9 13, Haist 0-0 0-0 0, Carpenter 1-2 8-9 10. Totals 24-59 23-40 81.
Halftime — Cloud County 34, Dodge City 24. Three-point baskets — Cloud County 2-11 (Stewart 2-5, Dillard 0-3, Smith 0-2, Shasi 0-1), Dodge City 10-17 (Brock 2-5, Jackson 2-4, Eaves 2-3, O'Neil 3-3, Duley 1-2). Rebounds — Cloud County 54 (Brinker 16), Dodge City 39 (Brock, Beckett 6). Assists – Cloud County 11 (Stewart, Dillard 4), Dodge City 11 (Eaves 3). Fouled out — Diop, Gomis, Beckett. Total fouls — Cloud County 28, Dodge City 22. Technicals — Gomis, Beckett. Records — Cloud County 8-9 (0-1), Dodge City 12-5 (1-0).