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Barton women set to begin conference play

Junior college basketball

POSTED January 2, 2012 10:44 p.m.

It was an up-and-down start to the season for the Barton Community College women’s basketball team.
The Lady Cougars started with an 81-43 win over the Bethany College junior varsity squad.
Then came a pair of losses on the road before a six-game winning streak.
Finally, a 63-61 win over a then-No. 3-ranked Independence team at the Best Western Angus Inn Classic gave Barton a 10-4 record to enter the holiday break.
Barton head coach Darin Spence, who is in his first year with Barton, said that he hadn’t expected anything from the season, but is happy with how it is going so far.
“When this all started, I had no set goals for this season,” Spence said. “We just wanted to get better. The girls didn’t know our system going into the year, so we just wanted to get better at working together.
“We just wanted to compete, and I think that we’ve done that. I think we’ve lost a couple that we could have won, but I think we won a few that we could have let slip away.”
On Wednesday night, the Lady Cougars host Seward County, which is ranked No. 10 in the latest National Junior College Athletic Association poll, to open Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference play. The game is set for 6 at Kirkman Activity Center, preceding the men’s game at 8.
Barton has been led by sophomore forward/center Dionne Harris, who has averaged 14.3. She also leads the team in rebounds with 8.3 per game.
“I’m pleased with her,” Spence said of Harris. “She was the first one to buy in on what we wanted to do. She worked hard to make a relationship with us, (assistant coach Carter) Kruger and I. She showed up early to practice with a smile, and you expect that from players like her.
“She’s a veteran player and you expect her to be a leader for your team.”
Harris was named the KJCCC Co-Player of the Week on Dec. 6 and NJCAA Division I Player of the Week on Dec. 7.
Barton has fought injury problems all season, including injuries to Harris, Ta’Kerra Williams, Jennifer Allende, Shea Shoemaker and Cerissa McMillan.
Spence said that Harris is doing better with her foot injury after the break, but Williams and Allende are going to be day-to-day with knee injuries.
Shoemaker joins Harris in double digits averaging 10.6 points per game.
Ashlynn Knoll leads Seward County (11-2) with an average of 15.3 points per game. Mariah Lee averages 12.6 and Anete Kirsteine averages 10.8.
“Seward, just by tradition, they don’t beat themselves,” Spence said. “Seward is pretty solid in everything that they do. They defend well. It’ll be a tough challenge for us.
“I think I’d rather play them first than a team on the lower end of the division.”

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