Flashbacks to old school Jayhawk Conference basketball broke out at the Barton Gym Saturday afternoon with the Barton Community College men's basketball coming out on the short end of a 79-77 battle with Seward County Community College. Trailing by eighteen points in the contest, the Cougars battled back through the midst of four combined technical fouls taking a late three-point lead before dropping its third straight loss. Barton falls to 6-4 in the rugged Jayhawk and 14-7 overall while the nationally receiving votes Saints improve to 6-4 and 16-5 on the season. The Cougars will look to snap its skid on Wednesday as Barton travels to Cloud County Community College for an 8:00 p.m. tip in Concordia.
Just as they had Wednesday night in Hutchinson, Seward County came out red hot knocking down three consecutive three-pointers in building an 18-4 lead causing Barton to burn two timeouts in the game's first four minutes. Going on to drain two more long balls, the Saints went 5-of-9 beyond the arc and shot 72% from the field increasing the lead out to fifteen at 31-16 going into the 8:38 first half media timeout.
The Cougars began to build momentum on the flip side of the timeout cutting the lead to twelve on an Ezekiel Charles alley-oop pass to Dequandre Dentmond. Charles then went on a personal five point run highlighted by a emphatic follow-up jam rebounding a missed three-pointer then one possession later drained a trey in from of the Seward bench to cut the deficit to 40-37 with 2:40 to play. However the Saints countered back holding off the surge outscoring the Cougars by five the rest of the way to take a 49-41 intermission lead.
Barton carried some of their first half fire into the second frame cranking up the defense and cooling off the Saints coming off a 63% first half shooting exhibition. Following Derek Dorn's three charity throws after getting fouled on an attempted three, another defensive stop ensued and Charles was back crashing the offensive glass keeping the ball alive until Eddie Hunt cleaned up the mess on the backside to tie it up at 52 with 14:11 to play.
With the crowd energized and play intensifying on the floor, a good old-fashioned Jayhawk Conference battle reared its head in the next four minutes. Beginning with a loose ball foul on the Cougars' Anthony Smith, an ensuing technical was charged to Smith despite what many believe should have been issued to a Saints player or at minimum a double technical. Head Coach Craig Fletchall was one of those, and after questioning the official ruling was awarded one himself resulting in Seward County free throws. Fast forward a few possessions following a Niem Stevenson two-hand stuff on a fast break, it was Seward County's turn to draw the referee's ire beginning with a taunting foul away from the play by a different player. One technical free throw later by Charles, Saints Head Coach Bryan Zollinger interrupted the pair of throws as the referee's whistle signaled it Zollinger earned his own technical. When the dust began to settle and a much needed 9:38 second half media timeout approached, the Saints were sitting on the top end of a 64-58 margin.
In stepped freshman John Barbee keeping the Cougars within range burying two treys but a counter trey by Kingman sophomore Mitchell Packard preserved a five-point Saint lead with a little over six and half to play. But the next two minutes was all Barton going on a 5-0 run highlighted by Dorn's no-look feed to Dentmond flying in from the baseline with a one hand tomahawk slam sending the crowd into a frenzy at the 70-all tie with 4:07 to play. Forty-seven seconds later following another defensive stop Dorn put the Cougars on top as the Seward County transfer sent in a long range missile for Barton's first lead of the game coming at 73-70 with 3:40 left.
Stevenson was the answer for the Saints in the clutch scoring the next five beginning with an immediate drive to the hoop for an And-1. Unable to convert the free throw, the 2014 All-American made up for it on the next possession draining a left wing trey and suddenly Seward County was back on top 75-73 as only sixty-seconds had ticked off the clock.
As Barton went cold during a crucial time including missing a pair at the charity stripe, Stevenson stepped up at the free throw line sinking 4-of-6 giving the Saints a four point edge going down to the final nineteen seconds. Charles' three-pointer rimmed out on the ensuing possession all but sealed the Cougars' fate even with Seward County's 0-for-2 trip with six seconds left. A desperation Barbee trey was off its mark and Dentmond's offensive rebound and stick-back at the buzzer was too little too late as the Saints held on for the victory.
Despite being harassed all night on the court and from the Saints' faithful in attendance, Dorn seemed unphased leading his current team against his former team with a twenty point four assist and five steal performance. Smith came off the bench for his second double-double of the season scoring fourteen points and hauling down a career high fourteen rebounds with seven coming on the offensive end leading a whopping 46-24 rebound edge. Charles added fourteen and Dentmond contributed twelve while collecting five of his seven boards on the offensive glass.
Stevenson, coming off an injury redshirt last season, led the Saints with twenty-three points going 9-of-13 from the charity stripe and 6-15 from the field. James Byrd scored nineteen and Packard added twelve as the duo was 5-of-7 from beyond the arc and tied for team high honors with three steals and four rebounds each. Delano Jones added eleven points while leading the Saints in assists with four.