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Cougars set to make fourth trip to National Tournament

POSTED March 13, 2018 11:18 p.m.
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When the Barton men’s basketball team takes the floor at the Hutchinson Sports Arena Monday morning, it will be the fourth time the Cougars have played in the NJCAA National Tournament.
The most recent of those came in 2001. Barton was also a part of the National Tournament in 1999 and 1991. All three of those came as automatic qualifiers when the tournament had no at-large bids.
This will be the Cougars first at-large berth.
Let’s take a look back at each of the previous trips to the National Tournament.

2001 – Ebi Ere has
a tournament
for the ages
The Cougars were ranked No. 3 in the preseason polls that year with a star-studded lineup. By the time January rolled around some of those stars were gone. That is when Ebi Ere really began to shine.
The cast of Ere, Eric Bush, Jason Carter, and Eric Washington led a post season run through the Region VI tournament after finishing fourth in the Jayhawk West that season.
The big game in the Region VI tournament that year came in the quarterfinals against East champion Coffeyville. With the scored tied at 73-all, Ere drained a 35-footer at the buzzer to advance the Cougars into the semifinals, 76-73.
Behind 47 points in two games from Ere, the Cougars disposed of Seward County and Independence to win the Region VI title.
Unfortunately for Barton, the Cougars drew unbeaten and eventual national champion Wabash Valley in the first round. In those days, the brackets were already pre-determined by your region, not seeded. Barton lost that game, 90-77.
Another feature of the tournament back then was consolation play. The Cougars came all the way back to finish in seventh place.
But the game that will most be remembered during that 2001 National Tournament came in the consolation semifinals when Reb, as Ere was called, put on a show for those in attendance at the Sports Arena that afternoon.
The sophomore, who would go on to star at Oklahoma, scored 34 second-half points on his way to a school-record 52 in Barton’s win over Southwest Tennessee.
It was the third highest output in tournament history and most points scored in 41 years.
Ere would finish his career and the 2001 tournament with 40 points against Northwest Mississippi the next day as Barton won its last three games. His 942 points that season is still a school record.

1999 – Barton makes it to NJCAA Championship game
The 1999 team was the most successful team in school history. That team played for the NJCAA Championship against traditional power Indian Hills. Barton lost that title game, 100-86, as Indian Hills completed its third straight NJCAA title going 112-2 over that span. Barton finished that year 35-3.
That 1999 team was one to remember for the Cougars. Barton had 7-3 Aleksander Radojevic back from the previous year but were picked third in the Jayhawk West. The early season emergence of newcomers Lamont Roland, DeMarcus Minor, Joe Fermino and John Carson let the NJCAA know Barton had something special.
Barton went from unranked in the pre-season to No. 3 in the nation when the first poll came out in December. The Cougars rose to No. 1 in early January and went 25-0 before suffering its first loss.
The Cougars would end the regular season 28-2 and the No. 2 team in the NJCAA behind Indian Hills. Barton didn’t have a game closer than 13 in the Region VI Tournament until a 75-71 win over Garden City in the championship game.
Barton cruised through the National Tournament. Roland scored 32 in a 120-86 win over Aquinas to start the NJCAA tournament. Minor, the point guard for the Cougars, followed with 26 points and 11 rebounds in a 95-74 win over Bacone in the quarterfinals.
Roland tossed in 25 and Radojevic grabbed 16 rebound in Barton’s 103-90 semifinal win over Kennedy-King.
That set up the much anticipated No. 1 v No. 2 match up in the title game between 2-time defending champ Indian Hills and the local favorite Barton.
Before a near-packed Sports Arena, the Cougars didn’t have their best stuff that night. Despite a 30-point effort from Minor, Indian Hills was just too much, winning 100-86.
Roland scored 921 points that season to set a school record that was broken by Ere is 2001.

1991 – The first National Tournament for the Cougars
It was Barton’s first trip to the national tournament. Barton started that season off 15-0 before back-to-back losses to Cloud County and Hutchinson. The Cougars would lose two more games that regular season, heading into the Region VI tournament at 26-4.
Barton, playing in an 8-team tournament at the time, got by Coffeyville and Labette before beating Garden City, 107-100, in the Region VI title game as Mark Bell scored 28 points and Mark Hutton added 18 points and 15 rebounds.
But the Cougars still had to get through a play-in game against Northeastern Oklahoma before a trip to Hutchinson was secured.
The Cougars would get 20 points Bell, 18 from Alfredo Porter, 16 from Shawn Copes and 13 points and four blocks from Hutton on the way to a 92-87 win over NEO at the Barton Gym to advance to the National Tournament.
In Hutch, Barton rolled by Kaskaskia, 111-86, in the first round and advanced to the semifinals with a 101-94 win over Faulkner State. The Cougars’ run for a title ended in the semifinals, losing 105-99 to Arizona Western.
Barton would finish third after beating Mississippi Gulf Coast, 98-88.
Bell set school record with 752 points that season that was shattered in 1999 by Roland. He is still the leader with 1470 career points.


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