On a Noah Webster steal and one-hand flush with 9:25 to play, the Cougars and the large contingent of Barton fans sensed the NJCAA first round victory was within reach with the seventeen point lead. For the hometown product a baseline three-pointer would follow as the Barton Community College men's basketball team uncorked a 12-0 run in less than a two minute span in paving the way for an 86-63 victory over Tyler Junior College in the opening game of the NJCAA Division I National Tournament. The win marked Head Coach Craig Fletchall's 300th at the Barton helm as Barton improves to 28-6 on the year and sets up a 2:00 p.m. date on Tuesday with top ranked and unblemished 33-0 Indian Hills Community College. Tyler, the Region IX champions, completes the season at 26-7.
Making their first appearance at The Tournament since 2001, the 16th seeded Cougars slipped behind by six early against the 17th seeded Apaches before regrouping with an 8-2 spurt including a 5-0 run led by a Webster three-pointer in front of the bench and a Marvin Cannon dish to Kawanise Wilkins for a 12-all tying layup.
Tyler responded with the next four points before Kian Dalyrimple's first of two three-pointers to bookend a 13-0 Cougar run to surge ahead by nine with eleven minutes to play in first half action.
The teams traded points for the next five minutes until a free throw contest broke out, with Barton sinking 6-of-8 and Tyler making just one of their two trips to the line leaving the margin at ten. Webster's hoop-n-harm following by Wilkins dime to Cannon pushed the lead out to fifteen with two to play as the Cougars would later head to the locker room with a fourteenth point cushion at 43-29.
Second half action was toe-to-toe defense as the teams traded buckets, as well as, free throws for the first six minutes.
The Apaches' Micah Thomas' trey seemed to wake each team as Keshon Montague answered twenty seconds later with a Cougar three pushing the margin back to fifteen.
Following two missed Tyler free throws, Elijah Ford pushed the lead to seventeen but the Apaches continued to battle back getting the margin to ten with 10:38 to play.
Trading buckets the next two possessions, Roy Broomfield's inside hoop followed by Montague's trey extended the lead with Webster's steal and transition dunk dumping kerosene on the fire. The dagger three-pointer would ensue with a Wilkins tough move in the paint capping the 12-0 run for a twenty-two point margin.
Tyler tried to respond with consecutive treys but Wilkins flashed his long range shooting as well draining his 2nd of the game.
The margin shrunk to sixteen with 5:17 to play but Ford dialed up from beyond the arc and Cannons' baseline jumper with Ford's tip-in off a missed three-pointer widened the gap back out to twenty-five with 3:14 to play in sealing the victory.
Wilkins lead all scorers with twenty-one points to go along with seven rebounds and two blocks while leading Barton's second highest assist output of 22 with six dimes.
Connecting on 3-of-7 from beyond the arc, Webster finished with eighteen points while Ford added fourteen to go along with four offensive rebounds in matching Wilkins' total of seven. Montague matched Webster from long distance to finish with eleven. Cannon rounded out the five Cougars in double-digits with his fifth double-double of the year, scoring ten points and hauling down fourteen rebounds while also leading the squad with four of the team's eight rejections.
Thomas' fourteen points off the bench led the Apaches with Cameron Johnson adding twelve in being joined by Tajuan Agee for team high rebound honors with seven. Brian Warren scored eleven with TiAndre Jackson finishing with ten.
Professional photos of the action provided by Everett Royer, KSportsImages.com can be found here
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.
Local radio 104.3FM with award winning Cole Reif on the call will be carrying the game with pre-game coverage from the Arena beginning at approximately 1:30 p.m.
Fans unable to attend the games can not only listed to the call, but watch the games online provided exclusively by NJCAA TV and can be found at www.njcaatv.com. Viewing purchases available beginning at $4.99 per game with package pricing also available.
Barton Sports is also providing behind the scenes and live updates on the "Barton Sports" Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Complete Tournament information can be found at the official tournament website located at www.njcaahutchtourney.com