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Jayhawk West men’s teams struggle in their home openers

POSTED January 5, 2012 11:18 p.m.

Living in the Wild, Wild West.
Wild West.
Life in the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference Western Division of men’s basketball is wild and wooly. You never know what to expect, or what you’re going to get.
Consider the plight of Western Division teams on Wednesday night:
For the visiting teams, it was sheer exhiliration. For the home teams, just the opposite.
NJCAA Division-I nationally ranked No. 7 Barton was upset 73-67 by defending West champion and preseason favorite Seward County, which was unranked in the latest poll but is likely to emerge in the top 20 next week.
Tenth-ranked Hutchinson was dealt a home-opening 78-75 loss to unranked Dodge City.
Cloud County played the role of road warrior and clubbed Colby 84-67.
Garden City invaded El Dorado and beat Butler 83-76.
“All four of the road teams won, which is crazy,” said seventh-year Barton head coach Craig Fletchall, whose team entered the game with a 14-0 pre-conference mark, only to have Seward rally for victory in the second half.
“I don’t know if that’s ever happened since I’ve been coaching in the Jayhawk Conference.”
So goes life in the wild, wild West.
“The thing is, the rankings and undefeated record was nice,” Fletchall said, “but the conference is what people care about and we’ve shown that we can compete in this league.
“Every game is going to be a battle and our guys need to play for 40 minutes, not 25.”
Barton came out like gangbusters in the first half against Seward, building a 38-26 halftime lead and seemingly seizing command of the game.
But when the Saints made their decisive second-half run, the Cougars didn’t have an answer. They completely got away from catching passes in rhythm for open shots, thus discombobulating their own offensive flow with too much dribble-drive penetration.
“The mentality and the lack of focus down the stretch really hurt us,” Fletchall said. “That’s just a lack of experience on the floor.
“We’ve got to go back to the drawing board, and we play a good Dodge City team on the road on Saturday. Dodge City went in and beat Hutchinson at the Sports Arena …we have our work cut out for us.”


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