The Barton Community College men's basketball team's bid to win at the defending national champions fell by the wayside late as the Cougars dropped an 81-73 decision to the No. 6 ranked Blue Dragons of Hutchinson Community College. The loss sends the Cougars to the holiday break in second place of the Jayhawk Conference standings at 7-2 and 11-2 on the season while Hutchinson's victory puts the Blue Dragons alone at the top at 8-1 and 12-1 overall. Barton's next action will come Wednesday, January 3, in hosting Cloud County Community College (2-7, 4-8) in a 7:30 p.m. tip at the Barton Gym.
Hutchinson native Noah Webster led four Cougars in double digits with seventeen points including a two-hand jam amidst a personal 6-0 run leading Barton from a ten point second half deficit. Marvin Cannon helped keep the Cougars close at the halftime break scoring twelve of his sixteen points in first half action. Reigning conference player of the week Kawanise Wilkins led Barton in rebounding with eight points while scoring in double-digits for the twelfth straight game in contributing twelve points and dishing out four assists to go along with a block and two steals. Point guard Keshon Montague battled through two days of sickness to dish out a team high five dimes while connecting on 2-of-3 from beyond the arc in finishing with eleven points.
Devonte Bandoo led all scorers with nineteen points in a solid seven rebound and five assist night. Wednesday's buzzer beating and forty-one point night hero J.J. Rhymes added fourteen while matching Bandoo's five dimes to pace the nineteen assist total for the Blue Dragons. Robert Whitfield's 3-of-4 from long range led to eleven points with Curtis Hollis rounding out the double digit scorers with ten.
With Barton launching its second most three-pointers in a game for a season low 26.7% shooting, Hutchinson collected the misses for a ten rebound edge led by Kai Mitchell's eight.
After a slow start for each team, Hutchinson taking three minutes and the Cougars taking five minutes to each find the bottom of the net, Cannon's 16-footer led a 9-0 run giving Barton its largest lead of seven coming at the 13:24 mark at 9-2.
Hutchinson answered with a 10-1 spurt to tie it before Montague buried a three-pointer as Barton would tack on a Webster trey out of the media timeout followed by an Akeem White tip-in to match its largest lead at 20-13.
While Barton settled for jump shots, aggressive Hutchinson play including consecutive And-1 opportunities and a banked in trey led to eleven unanswered points. The Cougars deficit grew to seven late before Wilkins buried a long shot and a short range jumper to cut the halftime deficit to 40-37.
An 11-4 start to second half action put Barton in its largest deficit of the game as the Blue Dragons looked to be on the verge of blowing the Cougars out. Webster had other plans in his hometown going on a personal six point run highlighted by a fast break two-handed dunk then drew a charging foul leading to a Blue Dragon technical fouls. Webster sank the freebies then went back to the line after going aggressively to the hole resulting in another perfect two tosses.
The rest of the Cougar squad continued Webster's energy level battling back getting a 15' jumper from Cannon, consecutive offensive rebounds put-backs from Wilkins and Elijah Ford before Wilkins buried his second trey of the game to tie it at 58 with just under ten to play.
Missed opportunities would be the theme of the final ten minutes with Barton going on a six minute stretch without a field goal while Hutchinson continued to stay out front. The deciding turning point coming in the final two minutes following Webster draining his second triple of the night cutting the deficit to one with 2:08 on the clock.
The Blue Dragons stayed patient on their next offensive possession before knocking down the dagger of the game with a late shot clock three-pointer from the corner while Barton's next two possessions were quick treys. Hutchinson made their free throws down the stretch while Barton could only manage a field goal with forty-seconds remaining resulting in the eight point loss.
Other Game Notes:
- The victory was the fifth straight in the series by Hutchinson and third straight on their home floor versus Barton
- Hutchinson now leads the overall series 74-37 and 43-12 at the Sports Arena
- Barton's 30 three-point launches were the second most this season behind the 31 put up against Sterling College on November 8
- The conference leader in three-point shooting, Barton was held to a season low 26.7%
- Barton went to the free throw line a season low fourteen times (11-of-14) matching the opening night total versus McPherson College.