Courtesy Great Bend Tribune
Last season the Barton women's basketball team was not able to get to Hartman Arena for the Region VI quarterfinals and beyond.
That stuck with them over the summer as a trio of starters returned for their sophomore seasons.
This season it was a goal of Barton get there. Not only did the Cougars make it to Hartman Arena, they plan on staying a while.
Barton, the third seed from the West, pulled off the upset Saturday afternoon, defeating East's second seed Cowley, 81-75, in quarterfinal action.
"This was our goal," Coach Alan Clark said. "We wanted to get here and show what we could do. These girls have been coming to work for two years. They are getting their rewards for that now."
That moved Barton into semifinal action Monday afternoon against the No. 3 team in the nation.
One of those sophomores – Jaylin Stapleton – is playing her best basketball of her career. Fresh off a 40-point effort in the first round win over Neosho, Stapleton put a triple-double in the books in the win over Cowley.
Stapleton finished with 26 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. The assists were a career high and the rebounds tied her best ever mark.
"What a performance," Coach Clark said. "I can't say enough about her. She has really stepped it up the past few games. It seems like the bigger the game, the better she plays."
It was back-and-forth early. Barton trailed 16-13 after the first quarter then led 33-31 into halftime.
Barton got a big break early in the second half when Cowley point guard Kedranea Addison picked up her fourth foul less than two minutes into the third period.
Addison drove to the lane where Stapleton was awaiting just outside the half-circle. Addison ran over Stapleton and went to the bench with her 18 points.
Barton began to get some separation midway through the third. Richelle Turney hit a runner in the lane then Stapleton hit a pull up jumper at the elbow with 4:55 to play for a 48-41 lead.
The lead hit 50-41 as Stapleton continued to impress. This time the sophomore gave a pump fake at the top of the key, then drove into the trees for a layup with less than four minutes to play in the period.
Cowley got the lead down to five, 52-47, when Stapleton did it again. Driving inside for a tough bucket. An Irene Chukwudi block at the other end led to a Turney layup and free throw and the Cougars had a 57-47 lead with just more than one minute to play in the third.
The third period ended with the Cougars up, 62-49 after Mallory Miller beat the buzzer with a trey from the left corner.
Barton put up 29 points in the third period.
The Cougars would not be denied in the final period.
When Turney drilled a 3-pointer with 5:45 from right in front of the Barton bench, the Cougars had a 69-57 lead.
At that point, the feeling in Hartman Arena was Barton was on its way to the semifinals.
But Cowley was going away easily.
The Tigers got the lead down to 71-65 with just more than three minutes left on a deep 3 by Paige Granstaff.
Taylor Regan allowed Barton to breathe a little easier with a layup on a pass from Stapleton to make it 73-65 but Cowley got the lead down to 73-68 with 1:53 to play.
This time it was Chukwudi, left open under the basket, that ended an 8-2 Cowley run, with a bucket on another Stapleton assist. Chukwudi surpassed her career-high with another basket in the paint for a 77-70 lead with 1:03 left.
In the final minute, the Cougars put the game away at the free throw line.
Several Cougars had big games in addition to Stapleton's triple-double
Chukwudi finished with career highs 16 points and 15 rebounds. Regan had a double-double as well with 14 points and 14 rebounds.
As a team, Barton dominated the boards, out-rebounding the Tigers by 30, 57-27.
Next is Barton's first semifinal game since 2014. Barton lost in overtime to Seward in Liberal and led the Saints for most of the game in Great Bend before losing by a single point.