The excitement of playing in March has officially hit Barton Community College as the men's basketball team received an at-large berth in the upcoming NJCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship.
Announced late this morning, the 27-6 Cougars received the 16th seed and is paired against 17th seeded Tyler Junior College for the opening game of The Tournament at 10:00 a.m. Monday at the Hutchinson Sports Arena. The winner will advance to take on top seeded and unbeatean Indian Hills Community College in the 2:00 p.m. game on Tuesday.
Ranked No. 19 in the final NJCAA regular season poll, Barton tied for 2nd in the rugged Jayhawk Conference with No. 14 Hutchinson at 21-5 and behind No. 10 ranked Coffeyville's conference leading 22-4 mark. Four of Barton's losses came against Hutchinson and Coffeyville including a Region VI semifinal loss against the Blue Dragons on a neutral site. The Cougars were stellar on the road this season compiling a program all-time best 12-1 record, all thirteen played in the KJCCC including an eight point win in Coffeyville for the Red Ravens' last loss of the season.
Receiving votes in the final Division I poll, Tyler also put together an outstanding season going 26-6 on the year including a 13-6 mark in region play. The Apaches bounced back from a three game slide to end the regular season with three straight wins to capture the Region XIV title earning the automatic bid to the big dance.
The Apaches will be making their second trip to the national tournament in the last four years while the Cougars are making their fourth appearance but their first since finishing seventh in the 2001 Championships.
A Hutchinson native growing up attending the annual championships, Barton Head Coach Craig Fletchall will be achieving a lifelong dream of coaching in the national tournament. Monday's trip to the Arena could be extra special as Fletch will be seeking his 300th coaching victory at the Cougar helm should Barton advance past the single elimination Tournament opening game.
Joining Fletch as a lifelong fan and fellow Hutchinson native, sophomore Noah Webster will also get a shot at taking the Sam Butterfield Court on the biggest stage of Division I junior college basketball.
Commemorative Barton Basketball t-shirts are on sale through noon Tuesday for $10 each with a pick-up available from noon-4:00 p.m. on Friday. Those interested can visit the BartonSports.com web site for t-shirt order form.
Tickets for The Tournament begin at $13 for general admission, $7 for youth ages 4-12, and free for children under three years of age. Reserved seat price for evening games set at $16 with All-Session reserved seating tickets also available for $65 each. Purchase options include orders by phone by calling (620) 669-9846 or at the Sports Arena ticket office on game day as available.
Complete Tournament information including web streaming coverage can be found at the official tournament website located at www.njcaahutchtourney.com