The Barton Community College men’s basketball team rallied from a late eight point deficit Wednesday night at the Barton Gym to escape 80-78 over Dodge City Community College. Having defeated the Conquistadors by thirty-one points in Dodge City in the second game of the conference season, Barton knocked down the big shots while getting some help escaping Dodge City’s upset bid. The victory kept Barton in second place in the Jayhawk West as the Cougars snapped a two-game losing streak to improve to 7-3 and 19-5 on the season while Dodge City suffers its fourth straight defeat in dropping to 4-6 in conference and 14-10 overall. Barton will begin a tough three-game five-day stretch beginning on Saturday with a 7:30 p.m. at Garden City Community College. The Cougars will then return home Monday for a battle with No. 6 Butler Community College before wrapping up the stretch with a Wednesday trip to No. 17 Hutchinson Community College.
Having led by seven in the first half but clinging to a one-point halftime edge, the Cougars suddenly found itself trailing by ten within the first four minutes of second half action. Back came the Cougars behind a three-pointer by Tyron Hamby to kick-start a 16-4 run regaining the Barton lead with just over ten minutes to play.
Tied for the eighth time in the contest with eight minutes to play, Dodge City owned the next six minutes building the lead out to eight with only 2:19 remaining. Nine seconds later Ahmad Walker gave Barton hope draining a three in front of the Barton student section cutting the deficit to five. The Cougars then sent EJ Eaves to the charity stripe where the sophomore made 1-of-2 to push the lead out to six. Ten seconds later Walker drained another trey, this time on the opposite side of the court in front of the Barton bench drawing the Cougars to within three with 1:29 to play.
Barton again sent the Conquistadors to the line but Brett O’Neil missed both charity throws keeping the distance a one possession game. Ranked sixth in the Jayhawk West in assists at nearly six per game, Walker’s skip pass found Kenny Enoch in perfect rhythm tying the contest at 78 with fifty-five seconds to play.
Facing a three game losing streak having given up an average of ninety-two points in the previous losses, the Barton defense came up big forcing two contested shots with Jalin Barnes coming down amongst the trees with the biggest of his five rebounds on the night.
Putting the ball into the hands of the reigning KJCCC Player of the Week for the final eighteen seconds, Walker found a seam in the Conquistador defense drawing the foul of 7’1″ Payton Pervier with only 4.3 ticks on the clock. Sinking both free throws, Walker gave Barton its first lead since the 7:45 mark.
Following timeouts by each team, Dodge City’s long pass into the front court was deflected by Barton right into the hands of Raheem Watts who dribbled to the right wing connecting on what would have been a go-ahead three. However the Conquistadors had called a timeout as soon as Watts gained possession setting up a nervous 2.8 seconds for the Cougar faithful.
In-bounding the ball from the old ‘hash mark’, the Conquistadors found George Brock in the right baseline corner but Brock’s contested trey rimmed out at the buzzer foiling the Dodge City upset bid.
Uncharacteristic for the Cougars, only two players reached double-figures led by Walker’s career high thirty-two points. Eclipsing the thirty-point mark for the third time this season, Walker drained 4-of-4 from beyond the arc and 10-of-13 from the free throw line scoring in double figures for the sixteenth straight game while also leading the Cougars with eight rebounds. Kenny Enoch helped lead a 56% second half shooting by Barton, connecting on half his shots including 5-of-10 from behind the arc to finish with a season high twenty-three points. Tyrone Acuff and Hamby each knocked down a trey finishing with nine points each as Hamby dished out a team and career high five assists as the Cougars had nineteen assists on twenty-six field goals.
Dodge City placed five players in double-digit scoring led by EJ Eaves’ seventeen points coming off the bench. Payton Pervier recorded his second double-double against the Cougars scoring sixteen points and grabbing fourteen rebounds while swatting away five potential Barton field goals. Ameer Jackson’s 4-of-7 and Raheem Watts’ 3-of-3 behind the arc added fourteen and thirteen points to the scoring while George Brock finished with eleven and a game high six assists.
After sub-par shooting performances by each team in the first half, both heated up in the second shooting 50% or better including 16-of-21 from long range. Barton drained 9-of-11 in the second frame while Dodge City knocked down 7-of-10.