It was the matchup the Barton Community College men’s basketball team didn’t want to see in the opening round of the Region VI playoffs but it was the hand dealt by the scheduling gods. Having defeated Cloud County Community College 78-69 on Wednesday, the Cougars were faced again with having to defeat the Thunderbirds as the season stood in the balance. Barton took a nine point lead into the locker room but a Cloud County 11-2 run in the first three moments changed momentum eventually leading to the Cougars season coming to a halt. Finishing the regular season receiving votes in the national poll, Barton concludes the 2014-15 campaign at 24-8 after a 10-4 second place finish in the Jayhawk West standings. Cloud County, who finished last in the West at 3-13, improves to 17-14 earning a Region VI quarterfinal match against eleventh seeded Dodge City Community College at 1:00 p.m. Thursday.
Similar to Wednesday night’s game, both teams started off the game struggling to score. Barton built a nine point lead midway through the first half with Cloud responding to draw within five with 6:30 to play. Consecutive treys by Tyrone Acuff and Kenny Enoch sandwiched a pair of Ridell Camidge free throws pushed the lead out to nine. Camidge struck back with another trey but Khalil Gracey answered with his own trey as the Cougars would go to the locker room with the nine point lead.
Demonte Ojinnaka buried a trey to begin the second frame with Camidge connecting on his second of the game while adding two free throws keying an 11-2 run to tie it up at 37 at the 17:05 mark. Consecutive hoops by Tyron Hamby and Damarco White put the Cougars back out by four but Devon Thomas connected on his first of two second half treys to draw back to within one.
Camidge, who would go 4-of-5 from beyond the arc in the second half, knocked down consecutive treys giving Cloud its first lead since the twelve minute of the first half and oddly occurring at exactly the twelve minute mark of the second half.
The excitement picked up the next five minutes as the teams battled back and forth until Kenny Enoch’s trey gave Barton its last lead of the night 61-60 with 7:38 to play.
Another Camidge trey, four points coming from Jesse Patrick, and a Creighton Brinker three pointer set off a 10-1 run opening up an eight point Thunderbird lead with 5:34 to play.
The Cougars battled back behind five points from Acuff and three from Jalin Barnes to close the gap to two with 2:29 to play. Thirty seconds later Ojinnaka buried the last of his three treys leading a Thunderbirds’ 10-of-15 effort behind the arc in the second half plus free throws by Camidge and Thomas extended the lead out to nine with 1:06 to play.
For the next twenty seconds it was a free throw exchange until Tyron Hamby buried a trey with thirty-six seconds cutting the deficit to six. Following Brinker’s 1-of-2 trip from the charity stripe, Barton came up empty but got a big defensive stop setting up Walker’s old-fashioned three-point play drawing Barton to with four with twenty-six seconds.
Sending the T-birds to the line, Camidge missed the first but made the second pushing the lead back out to five. Hamby then grabbed a big offensive rebound off Gracey’s missed three pointer, was fouled, then went to the line sinking both and suddenly the Cougars only trailed by three with eight seconds to play.
Needing another defensive stop, Camidge gave Barton life by plowing over the Cougars’ Christian Smith on the inbound giving Barton possession under their hoop with 8.7 ticks on the clock.
Following a Barton timeout, the Cougars inbound pass was kicked out to the corner finding Smith for a good look at the game tying three in front of the Barton bench. As fate would play out, the Smith trey did everything but go in leaving a mad scramble for the ball as time wound out and thus ending the Cougars’ season.
Posting his second straight double-double, Ahmad Walker led four Cougars in double-digits to wind up his Barton career. The sophomore transfer dropped twenty-seven points and grabbed thirteen rebounds for his eleventh double-double of the season while also leading Barton with six assists. Tyrone Acuff finished with fourteen points while fellow freshman Tyrone Hamby came off the bench to score twelve. Kenny Enoch, who tied a school record nine three-pointers in Wednesday’s victory over the Thunderbirds, finished with ten points on 2-of-7 behind the arc.
Ridell Camidge’s 6-of-12 behind the arc and twenty-six points led three Thunderbirds in double-digits. Devon Thomas added nineteen points dishing out a team high eight dimes to go along with four steals. Demonte Ojinnaka added twelve points to complete the trio’s fifty-seven combined points and 11-of-22 behind the arc.