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Cloud backcourt ranks as tops in KJCCC

POSTED January 31, 2012 11:53 p.m.
Mack McClure Great Bend Tribune/

Barton sophomore forward Dwayne Brunson has bee...

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Algie Key is quickly establishing himself as one of the top freshman guards in the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference.
Key, backcourt mate Turon Parker and Co. will be given a true test tonight, when the NJCAA No. 9-ranked Barton Cougars (19-2, 5-2) travel to Concordia to take on Cloud County (15-7, 4-3) in another critical Western Division game.
The Cougars, who are tied for second place in the West with Colby, moved from No. 10 to No. 9 in the latest national rankings as they seek their sixth straight win. Barton will be encountering what is widely regarded as the Jayhawk Conference’s top backcourt in Cloud’s Devon Branch and Richard Carter, both future NCAA Division-I players.
“Carter, their point guard, is headed to Drake and their shooting guard, Branch, looks like he’s going to Maryland,” Barton head coach Craig Fletchall said. “Our guys have been pretty good this season concentrating on one guard and one-guard sets.”
Branch is averaging 21.8 points, and Carter averages 19.9 points and has a team-high 98 assists.
 “We haven’t had to see two like this,” Fletchall said of the duo. “It’s definitely going to be a challenge. We don’t want to walk in so much on those two that somebody else beats us, but it’s something we’ve talked in length about … not letting Carter and Branch beat us.”
Playing at an unrelenting and furious pace, Key has been the driving force in spearheading the Cougars’ devastating offensive arsenal. A Decatur, Ga., native, the 6-foot-3 Key leads the team in scoring (18.6 points per game), assists (117) and ranks second in rebounding (139).
Parker, a native of Canton, Ohio, who returned from an early-season knee injury at the start of the semester, is averaging 7.6 points and has totaled 45 assists, third on the team. Kurt Walker, a freshman from Topeka Hayden, has bolstered the Cougars’ perimeter game, knocking down 10 of 25 3-pointers for a team-high 40 percent.
Without question, the Cougars will need to be clicking on all cylinders against the league’s most talented backcourt, known to run and run, just like them.
“They’re quick in transition and both (Branch and Carter) are better off the dribble. They love to push it,” Fletchall said.
“Branch is a lot like (Key). Extremely fast.”

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