The Barton Community College men's basketball team needed a late comeback Wednesday at Independence Community College to split the season series with a 76-73 victory. The Cougars trailed by seven in the final four minutes before getting four consecutive defensive stops outscoring Independence 15-5 down the stretch in avenging the December home loss to the Pirates. The victory keeps Barton alone in second place of the Jayhawk standings at 15-5 improving to 19-5 on the season while dropping Independence to 8-12 and 11-12 overall. Barton will hope to avenge another earlier season loss this Saturday as the Cougars welcome in third place Dodge City Community College to the Barton Gym for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off.
Independence led for a majority of Wednesday's contest including scoring the first seven points and grabbing a 12-3 lead. Jahlil Rawley's second early trey followed by Noah Webster's long range missile quickly brought the Cougars back to within three. The Pirates held off any Barton charge building the lead back to seven late in the first half before a Cougars 6-0 run closed the gap as Independence would keep the edge taking a 28-26 lead to halftime.
Anthony Smith went to work opening up second half play tying the game at 28 setting the tone for a final twenty minute battle. The Pirates were able to widen the gap back out to six and later scored five straight for another six point lead approaching the mid-point. Getting a Malik Toppin putback, the Cougars gained a pair of Webster free throws on the play as Independence was issued a bench technical arguing Toppin's offensive glass clean up cutting Barton's deficit to three with just over ten to play.
A couple of ties ensued on the back side of the media timeout with the Cougars finally getting their first lead of the game coming at the 5:37 mark as Ezekiel Charles scored on a drive through the lane. The Pirates answered with one of their nine treys on the night to take the lead back before a pair of Webster free throws knotted things up at 59.
The Pirates surged back ahead with a mini five point surge and after a pair of 1-of-2 trips to the line for the Cougars, Independence appeared headed for a runaway victory tacking on another four points to lead by seven with just over three to play.
The Cougars began the comeback getting a pair of Smith free throws before forcing the first of Independence's four straight turnovers. Webster connected on tough jumper, Malik Rhodes dropped in a couple of charity tosses, and then Barton grabbed just its second lead of the game as Webster connected on an And-1 to suddenly give the Cougars a 70-68 advantage with 1:45 on the clock.
Empty trips for both teams ensued and 1-of-2 trips to the line for both took the next minute off the clock before Rhodes connected on his lone field goal of the game, a three-pointer kissed off the glass, pushing the Barton lead to 73-69 with 51.3 seconds left. The Pirates' Tate Turner scored his nineteenth point to cut the deficit in half but Rhodes drained 3-of-4 free throws down the stretch to secure the win.
Webster's twenty-six points on 6-of-9 shooting including 2-of-4 from behind the arc and 12-of-15 from the stripe marked the second time this season the Buhler freshman topped the twenty point mark. Rawley added eleven points leading the Cougars with four assists while Toppin finished with ten points and a team leading seven rebounds to lead a five board edge over the Pirates. Smith contributed nine with Rhodes scoring all eight of his points in the final three minutes.
Turner shared team high Pirate honors with Dajon Streeter scoring nineteen points each, combining for 8-of-14 from beyond the arc. Tyrone Riley added eight while sharing team high rebound honors with Jaelin Grant grabbing six boards each. Shawntez Scroggins also scored eight in dishing out a team high five assists.