The sixteenth seeded Barton Community College men's basketball knocked off top ranked and undefeated Indian Hills Community College 85-83 in overtime Tuesday afternoon in the second round of the NJCAA Division I National Tournament at the Hutchinson Sports Areana. The win advances Barton to the nation's final eight for the third time in school history as the 29-6 Cougars will next play Thursday at 12:00 p.m. against the Titans of eighth seeded Eastern Florida State. Indian Hills ends the season at 33-1 while the Titans ended Trinity Valley's season at 27-4 with an 85-80 victory in the game following the Cougars.
The storyline in a nutshell? The Cougars punched then punched again. The Warriors rattled off combinations and had the Cougars against the ropes. Barton retaliated then scored two more jabs than the Warriors did in cardiac time to escape the victors.
Unlike the Cougars we've come to know and love, and at times despise, Barton was the one who took the first swings with a 7-0 start to the game including Kawanise Wilkins knocking down a trey.
Like two school kids on the playground, each took their little jabs with the other responding for the next eleven minutes.
Wilkins' long range jumper turned the momentum back to the Cougars with Marvin Cannon and Keshon Montague getting their points leaving the Barton crowd rocking with an eleven point lead with 5:45 left.
Later sinking a pair of free throws, Cannon would later send the blue clad fans into a frenzy as the plastic man rose between three defenders to stuff home a missed shot putting Barton up thirteen with just under three to play.
Back came the Warriors with a four point swing but Cannon's finish from Montague and theft on the other end leading to a Montague jumper swung the margin back. Indian Hills put another bucket on the scoreboard in the final minute but "that guy Cannon" buried a trey in front of the Indian Hills bench with two seconds left on the first half clock for his seventeenth point leading the black jersey Cougars to a 41-27 lead.
Due to mandated rules of the game, the teams had to be separated for a halftime intermission as each squad went to a concrete room with blue lockers lining around three-quarters of the space with fold-out chairs scattered about. There, the teams and coaching staff discussed what just transpired and what needs to be done for their team to leave The Tournament either happy or sad.
After approximately four minutes of warm up, it was time for twenty minutes to be put back on the clock. Twenty more minutes for Barton to pull off what some felt was the unthinkable, and for the others, to prove doubters wrong that the Cougars didn't belong and the Warriors would survive and advance.
Taking a few Warrior jabs to begin the 'final frame', Barton licked their wound, tasted the blood drawn, and unleashed a 12-1 combination of free throws, rough and tumble inside buckets, and a Montague long range net swisher. The Barton faithful and a strong contingent of basketball fans were on their feet as the Cougars had an unthinkable twenty-one point lead with 15:35 left on the unbeaten and rightfully top ranked Indian Hills squad.
A traditionally rich program with fourteen national tournament appearances including five straight years of 440 mile trips to Hutchinson, the Warriors could have hung their heads. The Cougars had them on the ropes, threatening to blow then out of a gym they have frequented and destroyed competition in their path throughout many games in the years. Instead, true to the mascot name on their chest, the Warriors seemed poised and brushed themselves off for a good ol brawl on the hard wood.
Indian Hills chipped away at the deficit, patient in its attack, and as the clock slowly ticked down in the eyes of Barton fans, the Warriors were back to within eleven on a Devontae hoop-n-harm with 10:50 to play.
The air began to feel thick, like suddenly the humid air of The Gulf of Mexico had started to fill the 6500 capacity arena.
One of Cannon's ten field goals on the night triggered a slight sigh of relief for Barton. But it wouldn't last long.
Eleven seconds later and the Warriors were in full attack. Stifling and holding the Barton offense without a made field goal for the next five minutes. Launching a six pack of points before taking a rest while the Cougars' Kian Dalyrimple sank a couple of free throws.
Shane Gatling was ready for the restart and dialed up long distance for one of his three treys on the night. Robert Montgomery mixed in a pair of charity tosses with Gatling next getting his share from the tripe before knocking down his second trey to tie the game up at 64 with 6:57 left.
Barton was still searching for answers, Indian Hills was foaming at the mouth. A Devontae Lane steal and transition layup followed on the next empty Cougar possession by a Jamel Allen three-pointer had the Indian Hills bench and fans juiced as Barton looked up to the 5:40 digits on the clock in a five point deficit.
Two Cannon free throws put a stop to the 11-0 run and a defensive stop later, Montague threw one of his ten dimes on the night to Cannon for the hoop but the missed And-1 left Barton trailing by one.
Lane provided the Warrior answer with his second trey of the night but the Cougars would not go away. Cannon with a pair of free throws, blocking a Warrior shot on the other end, and 1-of-2 trips to the line from Cannon and Montague left the game tied at 72 with just over two to play.
A jab by Cannon, two jabs from Allen, a costly Barton turnover resulting in Antonio Williiams' steal and layup put the end to the Cougars with a three point lead with 1:01 on the clock.
It was the Cougars turn to be patient. An antsy crowd wanted the Cougars to attack. The patience would pay off with Noah Webster's smooth as butter free throw shooting knocked down a pair with thirty-eight seconds left.
Barton need a big defensive stop and they would receive it as Elijah Ford was fouled on the defensive rebound with ten seconds. Wilkins thought it was he who got fouled, the guys in stripes said it was Ford.
No pressure. The first throw clanks off the rim. No pressure. The New Jersey freshman sinks the second one. We're tied. We need another stop, we get it as Lane's shot with three seconds misses its mark.
It's been fun, it's been great. Let's play more tension filled, each possession matters, five more minutes of basketball. So they did.
For Barton it would be the third time this season and second in the playoffs, the Cougars would give the fans "bonus basketball". Zero times for the Warriors although six of their games were decided by ten points or less.
Unlike sudden death in some sports, scoring first in the extra frame doesn't win you the game but it can have if nothing else, a big psychological effect to the outcome.
Wilkins gave Barton the edge with a tough shot inside. Two missed Warrior throws left an early door open but a missed opportunity led to the Warriors third consecutive offensive rebound capped by a tip-in tied it back up.
Cannon answered with a big tip-in for Barton. Indian Hills, who shot just 60.5% from the stripe (23-of-38), made 1-of-2.
It was Barton's turn to own the offensive glass but it would result in zero points.
Time ticked to the under a minute to play. A Warrior offensive rebound resulted in a made jumper. The Warriors had their lone lead of the bonus frame with forty-seven seconds left.
Again the Cougars were patient, working twenty-eight seconds off the clock as Montague set up Wilkins for a highlight reel finger roll tear drop through the net giving Barton an 84-83 lead with nineteen seconds left.
Timeout Barton to get defensive subs as the Cougars needed their second biggest stop of the night. Wilkins snared the rebound off the Warrior miss sending the 73.2% shooting to the line.
Pressure's twin brother pressure wanted to play. Wilkins misses the first, Indian Hills wants to discuss plans. Wilkins leaves pressure on the Baton bench and swishes the free throw.
4.6 seconds and a two point lead. Antonio Williams receives the inbounds against token defensive presence. Passing by the Barton radio play-by-play announcer Cole Reif, Williams starts to set for a long jumper but momentarily bobbles before trying to launch a desperation trey over Roy Broomfield. It clangs off the window well beyond the goal as the light turns red and the buzzer sounds.
Barton students storm the court, players are mid-air chest bumping, the place is loud with cheers. The at-large bid Barton Cougars have knocked off the No. 1 ranked team in the nation and the Fightin Fletches join seven other teams in the quarterfinals of the title chase.
A career night left the stat sheet for Cannon as the freshman from Virginia put up thirty-five points and fifteen rebounds in posting his third straight double-double and fifth of the season. Sinking 14-of-17 from the charity stripe, Cannon also finished 10-of-16 from the field while also leading the Cougars with three blocks and two steals. Montague dished out ten assists to go along with thirteen points for his third double-double of the year with Wilkins adding thirteen and Ford eleven points to round out the double-digit scorers.
Gatling was perfect on twelve charity tosses with three dropping from beyond the arc in scoring twenty-five to lead the Warriors. Williams added sixteen, Lane twelve, and Thoma Woldetensae contributing eleven off the bench while also distributing a team high four assists. Allen grabbed a team high eight rebounds to go along with eight points while also chalking up three rejected Cougar shots.