The first time around it was the Cougars knocking off the ranked Blue Dragons by fifteen. Wednesday night at the Sports Arena it was the Barton Community College men's basketball team feeling the defeat as the 19th ranked Cougars were handed a seventeen point defeat as Hutchinson Community College rolled late to an 82-65 victory.
The result leaves the teams with identical second place 14-6 Jayhawk West and 23-6 overall records as both wrap up the regular season on the road. The Cougars travel to Garden City for a 4:00 p.m. tip-off while the nationally receiving votes Blue Dragons travel to Liberal for an 8:00 p.m. tip in facing conference champion and 13th ranked Seward County Community College. The outcome from the locations fifty-five miles apart will determine the West's second seed as both will host first round playoff games next Wednesday.
The Cougars' six straight opened up an early four point lead, ahead again at 12-9 with 13:54 to play before the Blue Dragons started to find their stride. Outscoring Barton 16-2 over the course of the next seven minutes for an eleven point lead, Hutchinson stretched the margin out to thirteen before Elijah Ford's bucket and John Williams' free throws helped draw the Cougars to within 38-28 at the halftime break.
Having rallied from a seventeen point first half deficit in the previous matchup of the teams in late January at the Barton Gym, the Cougars looked to be on its way to pulling off another rally as second half began.
Five straight from Leondre Washington cut the deficit in half right out of the locker room. Following a Hutchinson dunk on one of its nine offensive rebounds of the night, both teams had two missed opportunities until Anthony Atkinson-Enneking's steal and subsequent layup from one of Washington's team leading five assists drew Barton back to five with 16:37 remaining.
Hutchinson's seven straight in the next two minutes took the lead back to double digits, adding eight more following Ford's shot in the paint for a commanding 55-37 lead at the 10:47 mark.
The Blue Dragon lead grew to nineteen in the ensuing minute but Barton would put together a couple of good runs of 9-2 run and later with a 12-0 run highlighted by Martin Vogts and Washington three balls in cutting the gap to five with 5:25 to play.
Hutchinson went to the line in draining two of its twenty-two made free throws to halt the run and following consecutive empty Barton possessions, pushed the lead back out to eleven with 3:49 on the clock.
Barton couldn't string together another run and a Hutchinson trey and consecutive Cougar turnovers resulting in four of the Blue Dragons' twenty-six points coming off nineteen turnovers ballooned the game into a rout.
The Cougars shot just 38% for the game, led by Washington's nineteen points and Ford's eighteen the lone players in double-figures. Demarcus Morris came off the bench to lead with seven rebounds and swatting away four Hutchinson shots.
Cougar killer James Rojas again put up big numbers against Barton, posting a double-double twenty points and ten rebounds while also leading the Blue Dragons with six assists and four steals to go along with two of Hutchinson's twelve blocks on the night. D.J. Mitchell and Malique Jacobs each dumped in nineteen points to round out the double-digit scorers while leading Hutchinson to a 46-6 scoring advantage from bench players.