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KEYED UP

Freshman Key, soph Brunson spark Cougars

POSTED March 1, 2012 11:32 p.m.
Mack McClure Great Bend Tribune/

Barton Community College freshman guard Algie K...

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Algie Key doesn’t quite know what caused the deep muscle bruise in his right shoulder.
Nonetheless, the smooth Barton Community College Cougars basketball guard is going to keep doing what he’s been doing.
Key was selected as the NJCAA National Player of the Week on Wednesday after exploding for a career-high 32 points in an 84-69 victory over Colby last Saturday night at Kirkman Activity Center. Against Pratt on Wednesday evening, he missed 11 of his 12 shots from the floor, but also converted 15 of 18 free throws and finished with 17 points as the Cougars held off host Pratt 91-84 in double overtime.
Key, a 6-foot-3 freshman from Decatur, Ga., was also named as the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference Co-Player of the Week with Division-II Johnson County’s Justin Leathers on Wednesday.
Back to the injury, which will not keep him out of the lineup Saturday night when the Cougars (24-5, 10-5) entertain the Cloud County Thunderbirds (22-7, 10-5) at 8, following the women’s game at 6.
“It happened when I tried to fight through a screen or something,” Key said. “Or maybe when we played Colby. I ran into the wall and got hit on a foul call.
“It could have been anything, really. It gave me some problems. I’m not going to lie. I’ve just tried to fight through it. I’m doing all I can to get it better and heal and be ready to play on Saturday.”
Key and his Cougars teammates will have to be on their game as they will encounter arguably the best backcourt in the Jayhawk Conference in the Thunderbirds’ 6-0 point guard Richard Carter and 6-5 shooting guard Devon Branch.
Barton, Cloud and Hutchinson are currently wedged in a three-way tie for second place in the Jayhawk West.
“We’ve got to come out and give it our best because they’re going to bring their best, too,” said Key, who poured in a then-career-high 30 points in the Cougars’ road victory in Concordia earlier in the season.
“A win can put us in second place by ourselves.”
Sophomore forward Dwayne Brunson and Key have established themselves as one of the top inside-outside combinations in the conference.
Brunson, who had game highs of 24 points and 15 rebounds in the win over Pratt, has had five double-doubles in the last six games.
“I have been playing with him all season now and I know what he likes to shoot and I know where he wants the ball, and he knows where I want the ball,” Key said. “We mesh, and it’s a good thing.”
Since it’s their first and only season together, it took a little time for the duo to develop that cohesiveness.
“We were new to each other and we didn’t know how each other played,” Key said. “It took us a while, I’d say, the first half of last semester, but we started coming together towards the end.
“This semester, we really know how each other play.”


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