With a second-straight Jayhawk West championship and the No. 1 seed out of the West locked up, the second-ranked Hutchinson Community College women’s basketball team faces a challenging final week of the regular season.

On Wednesday, HCC travels to equally hot Cloud County for a 6 p.m. tipoff at the Thunderdome. Then on Saturday, HCC closes the regular season at the Sports Arena with Seward County. Cloud County and Seward County are battling for the second seed out of the Jayhawk West.

Cloud County was just seconds away from ending all of HCC’s current winning streaks one month ago at the Sports Arena when Chelsea Small buried a 3-point field goal from the left corner with 10 seconds remaining to give HCC a 69-67 victory.

HCC (27-0, 14-0) comes into Wednesday’s game off an impressive offensive showing in a 102-69 victory against Pratt where the bench totaled 52 points and the team shot 54.8 percent.

Cloud County (20-7, 7-3) has not lost since falling to HCC on Jan. 28, winning seven straight and 8 of 9. The Thunderbirds narrowly defeated Butler on Saturday, 57-54 at Butler.

The Lady Dragons took to continue their current winning streak of 28 games and a 26-game Jayhawk West regular-season win streak.

It was Cloud County that ended HCC’s Region VI championship bid last season, defeating the Lady Dragons in the Region VI championship game.

GAME COVERAGE
Live Radio: Blue Dragon flagship station KHUT-FM (102.9) and sister station KWBW-AM (1450) will provide live coverage with Steve Carpenter (play-by-play) and Glen Grunwald (Analysis) calling the action beginning at 5:50 p.m.

Internet: The Blue Dragon Sports Network will provide a live videostream beginning at 5:50 p.m. The link to BDSN can be found at BlueDragonSports.com and click on Game Day or Broadcast Schedule.

Live Statistics: Live stats will be available just before tipoff on Blue Dragon Game Day or on the Blue Dragon Sports Network Broadcast schedule at BlueDragonSports.com just before tipoff.

THE COACHES
Hutchinson: John Ontjes is in his fifth season with the Lady Dragons. He is 141-21 with the Lady Dragons, including two Jayhawk West and one Region VI championships.

Cloud County: Brett Erkenbrack is the dean of Jayhawk Conference coaches, now in his 21st season with the Thunderbirds. Erkenbrack is No. 1 Region VI in victories with a 534-203 record.

LADY DRAGONS WIN 5TH JAYHAWK WEST CHAMPIONSHIP
A 102-69 victory over Pratt on Feb. 25 at the Sports Arena clinched an outright 2012 Jayhawk West women’s basketball championship for the Lady Dragons.

It’s the second-time in team history that the Lady Dragons have won back-to-back conference championships.

Hutchinson has won women’s basketball Jayhawk West championships in 1977, 1978, 1980, 2011 and 2012.

HCC OPENS REGION VI PLAY ON TUESDAY AT THE SPORTS ARENA
Hutchinson will begin its quest for a third women’s basketball Region VI championship on Tuesday, March 6 at the Sports Arena.

The opening round of the Region VI Tournament will be scheduled for Wednesday, March 7, but because the Sports Arena also plays host to the KSHSAA Class 3A state basketball tournaments, the Lady Dragons had to play a day earlier.

The likely first-round opponent for HCC will be Fort Scott. The Greyhounds are currently eighth in the Jayhawk East, two games out of seventh place with two games to play.

Game time on Tuesday will be 5:30 p.m. The HCC men also qualified for a home game. That game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. Tickets go on sale Thursday morning.

ABOUT THE 2011-2012 LADY DRAGONS
The Lady Dragons continue to set a team-record offensive pace through 27 games. HCC’s 82.2 point-per-game scoring average ranks fourth in the NJCAA and first in the Jayhawk Conference.

HCC is first in the league and fifth in the nation in field goal percentage at 46.8 percent. The Lady Dragons are second in the KJCCC in 3-point shooting at 33.5 percent and is third in the league in free-throw percentage at 67.9 percent.

Defensively, the Lady Dragons are tops in the league and 11th in the NJCAA in scoring defense at 51.1 points per game. HCC also ranks first in the KJCCC in field-goal defense at 30.9 percent and blocked shots at 6.5 per game.

In conference play, HCC is averaging 79.6 points, is shooting 46.5 percent overall and 33.8 percent from 3-point range offensively. Defensively, Hutch is allowing 51.4 points and shoots 32.3 percent and 28.6 percent from 3-point range.

Sophomore guard Laura Patrick is eighth in the KJCCC in scoring at 13.7 points per game. Patrick ranks No. 6 in the league in made 3-pointers (1.78 per game) and ranks fourth in the league in 3-point percentage (40.3). She leads the Jayhawk Conference and is sixth in the NJCAA in free-throw percentage (86.3%) and is fourth in the Jayhawk Conference in field goal percentage (53.1%). In conference play, Patrick is averaging a team-high 14.9 points per game.

All-American Jackie Patterson is averaging 11.5 points per game. She has five double-doubles.

Sophomore Chelsea Small is averaging 11.0 points per game and is shooting 48.2 percent. Small shoots 37.1 percent from 3-point range.  Small has five double-doubles this season.

Sophomore Alysse Barlow is averaging 9.9 points overall.

HCC is third in the league in rebounding at 44.4 boards per game. Patterson averages a team-high 7.6 rebounds, while Small averages 7.0 rebounds.

The Lady Dragons are No. 1 in assists at 21.7 per game. Barlow is third in the KJCCC at 4.78 assists per game. Sophomore Lanicia Lawrence averages 3.81 assists per game, which is ninth in the league. HCC is fourth in the league in steals at 11.8 per game. Barlow is seventh individually at 2.78 steals per game. Small is second in the league at 1.63 blocks.

SCOUTING CLOUD COUNTY
The Thunderbirds bring in one of the Jayhawk Conference’s top offensive teams, ranking fourth in scoring offense (70.6 ppg), fifth in field-goal percentage (40.6%) and the top team in 3-point percentage (34.4%). Cloud was won seven in a row.

Brett Erkenbrack, the dean of Jayhawk Conference coaches, has Tera Ingalsbe inside and one of the top 3-point snipers in the league in Aleesha Coulter to showcase.

Ingalsbe, an in-state transfer from Johnson County, is Cloud County’s leading scorer at 12.9 points per game, which ranks12th in the Jayhawk Conference in scoring. She is leads in field-goal percentage at 55.3 percent and leads the T-Birds in rebounding at 6.9 boards per game.

Coulter is second in made 3-pointers (2.00 per game), sixth in 3-point percentage (37.5%) and eighth in steals (2.80 per game). She is averaging 11.3 points per game. Macy Parker, who averages 10.2 points per game, shoots 40.0 from long range but hasn’t played since Game 16.

Ashley Evans is second in scoring at 11.9 points per game. She has a team-high 97 assists and 57 steals.

The Thunderbirds rank 10th in the KJCCC in scoring defense (61.0 ppg), 10th in field-goal defense (37.7%) and 13th in 3-point defense (29.8%).

Cloud County averages 41.8 rebounds and allows 38.6 rebounds per game.

Cloud County freshman guard Rachel Tailele is the sister of former HCC all-conference guard Karla Tailele (2004-06).

SERIES HISTORY WITH CLOUD COUNTY
This will be the 59th meeting between Hutchinson and Cloud County in a series that began in 1974. The teams have met as Jayhawk Conference rivals since 1997.

Hutchinson owns a 34-24 series advantage. The Lady Dragons are 14-10 vs. Cloud County at the Sports Arena, 15-11 in games played at Concordia, 3-2 on neutral floors and 2-2 in Region VI competition. Hutchinson is 18-13 against Cloud County in games since the T-Birds joined the Jayhawk West before the 1996-97 season.

HCC won 2 of the 3 2011 meetings. HCC won 66-58 at Concordia and 83-53 at the Sports Arena. Cloud County won the Region VI championship meeting 46-45. Hutchinson defeated Cloud County 69-67 on Jan. 28 at the Sports Arena in this season’s first meeting.

The visiting team has won 14 of the last 24 regular-season meetings.

(HCC Sports Information)