Playing without three key players including two starters, the Barton Community College men’s basketball team put forth its best team effort in knocking off No. 12 Hutchinson Community College 105-93 Wednesday night at the Barton Gym. In the 105th meeting between the two rivals, Barton led all but fifty-six seconds of the contest going on to score its highest output ever in the series. The victory improves unranked Barton to 4-1 in the Jayhawk West and 16-3 overall while sending Hutchinson to its third straight loss to drop the Blue Dragons to 1-3 in conference play and 14-4 overall. Concluding a tough five-game nine-day stretch including two games against nationally ranked teams, Barton will get a much needed rest until a January 21 trip to Colby, Kansas, for a 8:00 p.m. conference matchup at the Community Building against Colby Community College.
Fourteen seconds into the contest Hutchinson momentarily silenced the juiced up Barton crowd executing a perfect Moataz Aly to Bashier Ahmed back door alley-oop dunk. Twenty seven seconds later Tyrone Acuff buried his first of two three-pointers on the night regaining the Cougar lead. Barton continued to lead until a DeShawn Freeman put Hutchinson up 20-19 with 10:54 to play. It would be the ranked Blue Dragons’ last lead as Acuff put the Cougars up fifteen seconds later. A 9-0 run late in the first half built the lead out to sixteen and Christian Smith‘s buzzer beating baseline trey sent the Cougars to the locker room with a fifteen point advantage.
Both teams came out hot in the second half but four three pointers by the Cougars increased the lead to twenty just four minutes into the second half. Smith knocked down two of his four treys on the night while Jalin Barnes and Kenny Enoch dropped bombs as well as the Cougars would draining 8-of-11 from behind the arc in the second half.
Another Enoch trey increased the lead out to twenty-two with twelve minutes to play but a 15-3 answer by the Blue Dragons over the next three minutes cut the deficit to ten. Barton widened the lead out to fifteen but three missed free throws and Hutchinson scoring ten of the next fourteen points cut the Cougars’ lead to nine with 2:38 to play. With uneasiness filling the Barton Gym, the Blue Dragons kept attacking slimming the deficit to six with fifty-two seconds to play. A pair of Acuff free throws followed by a Hoffman missed three-pointer with forty-two seconds all but sealed the fate as Smith and Khalil Gracey each made a pair of free throws for the final twelve point victory.
Acuff’s career high twenty-eight points led the Cougars in scoring as all five starters eclipsed the ten point mark. Scoring seventeen first half points, Acuff connected on 9-of-11 from the field and 8-of-11 from the charity stripe while also grabbing a team high eight rebounds. Saddled with foul trouble throughout the contest, point guard Barnes led with three steals and finished with twenty-two points in twenty-five minutes of court time. Smith also posted career high production knocking down 4-of-5 from behind the arc scoring twenty points, none bigger than a first half dagger from the baseline corner as time expired giving Barton a fifteen point advantage. Rock steady Enoch added seventeen while added eleven as each connected on 3-of-7 from three-point land.
As a team the Cougars shot 55.4% on the top rated defensive team marking the second straight game Barton eclipsed 50% from the field on a top conference defensive squad. Having drained ten or more treys six times this season, Barton made it seven games burying 14-of-24 from behind the arc for 58.3% while holding Hutchinson to 8-of-27 (38.9%). The top rated rebounding team Hutchinson won the battle on the boards 41-31 but the top rated Cougars turned ten steals into a 16-12 points off turnover margin. From the charity stripe, despite missing eight free throws in the last six minutes, Barton was perfect in its last six to finish 29-of-43 (67.4%) while Hutchinson went 17-of-28 for 60.7%.
Hutchinson also placed five players in double-digit scoring led by Bashier Ahmed’s twenty-two points. The Jayhawk West’s leading scorer DeShawn Freeman scored nineteen while Akbar Hoffman came off the bench to score eighteen. Austin Budke finished with fourteen while Zach Winter added ten. Keanu Pinder led the rebounding grabbing half of his team leading ten rebounds from the offensive glass as the Blue Dragons hauled down fourteen offensive boards. Winter and Che Bob led Hutchinson’s 15-13 assist advantage with three each.
Barton played the contest missing three players stemming from an on-court altercation on Monday versus Seward County Community College. With time winding down in Barton’s 97-73 win over the Saints, Cougar reserve player Tyron Hamby and the Saints’ Kevin Sims became involved in a physical exchange. Leaving the bench in support of Hamby, starters Ahmad Walker, who leads the Cougars in most statistical categories including top ten rankings in the Jayhawk West, and Eddie Hunt joined Hamby in being assessed a two-game suspension. All three players will miss the trip to Colby but should be available for Barton’s next home game on January 24 against Pratt Community College.