Only in the wild, wild Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference Western Division, right?
You knew it would be a pressure-cooker when Barton Community College clashed with NJCAA No. 4-ranked Hutchinson on Wednesday night at Kirkman Activity Center, right?
As if on cue, the Cougars and the Blue Dragons delivered, with Barton holding on for a wild 87-81 victory as Hutch came unglued down the stretch.
“I just told our guys, ‘That’s why you out-of-staters come here and that’s why the Kansas kids choose to play in this league, for the atmosphere and games like this,’ ” said Cougars head coach Craig Fletchall in their exuberant locker room after the game.
“You can’t get that at a lot of levels, and our guys were tough and led most of the game. I was real proud of them.”
Barton freshman post player Raheem Johnson outplayed Hutch sophomore post player Alex Davis, coming up with one of his biggest games of the season, recording a double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds. Al Key also scored 18 points, including 10-for-15 free-throw shooting, and Turon Parker added 15 points for the Cougars, who improved to 22-5 overall, 9-4 in conference play.
Hutchinson, which dropped from No. 1 in the national poll after losing to Butler last Saturday night, lost for the second straight game in falling to 24-2, 10-2.
Barton led 68-65 with 7:19 remaining after Johnson sandwiched a pair of tip-ins around a pair of Key free throws.
Then it started getting wild.
Hutch’s Kadeem Allen drove into the lane and hit a basket at the 5:21 mark, making it 68-67. But Allen was whistled for a charging foul on the play, along with getting hit with a technical, earning him an early exit with his fifth foul.
Parker made both foul shots on the other end and teammate Rapheal Stephens made the first of two for a 71-67 edge.
To compound the Dragons’ woes, Dre Henley was whistled for an intentional foul on Barton guard Kevin Kuteyi, who sank the second of two to make it 72-67.
Key then made a free throw and a basket shortly thereafter for a 75-68 lead before Hutch scored five straight points, capped by Henley’s putback, to get within 75-73.
Stephens answered with a basket on the other end, and Kuteyi knived in for a basket along the baseline to kick the margin back up to 79-73 with three minutes left.
After Johnson made the second of two free throws for an 80-75 lead with 2:08 left, Henley’s jumper from near the foul line made it 80-77 at the 1:54 mark.
But Key answered with a basket with 1:22 left to make it 82-77, and then Barton made five more free throws in the waning seconds.
In the midst of the Dragons’ frustration, Tafari Whittingham was ejected for a hard foul.
“I thought our guys handled themselves well and we knew it would be a physical game,” Fletchall said. “Honestly, we’re dead (after playing four games during a seven-day stretch) and this was all on emotion.
“I thank the crowd and the students so much because they were definitely our sixth man. After Monday’s loss (at Butler), we didn’t practice (on Tuesday), our guys were pretty beat up and they showed a lot of intestinal fortitude to do what they did against a top-5 team.”
In the opening 20 minutes, the Cougars, trailing 34-32, used a 10-4 streak during the final 3:03 of the opening half to grab a 42-38 halftime lead.
Kuteyi, who came off the bench to score 12 of his game-high 19 points in the first half, opened and closed the run by sinking a pair of free throws. Kuteyi also missed a trio of foul shots in the closing minutes of the half after getting fouled in the act of shooting a 3-pointer, and the lead stood at four.
Both teams missed their first seven shots from the field in a sluggish start. The Dragons didn’t score their first basket until the 16:43 mark, and the Cougars didn’t score theirs until the 15:14 mark.
After Hutch’s Rozell Nunn’s pair of free throws tied the game at 4, Barton went on a 7-4 mini-run for an 11-8 lead with 12:55 remaining in the first half. It included a pair of baskets by Stephens and a putback by Andell Cumberbatch.
The Dragons briefly went back ahead, 17-16, but Key hit a scoop shot and Parker swished a trifecta, prompting Dragons head coach Steve Eck to call a timeout with his team trailing 21-17 at the 9:55 mark.
From that juncture, the two teams traded baskets the remainder of the half before Barton went on its half-ending run.
JUNIOR COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference
At Great Bend
Kirkman Activity Center
LT & Sheila Fleske Court
Barton Community College 87, No. 4 Hutchinson 81
HUTCHINSON (24-2, 10-2)
Kadeem Allen 5-14 7-7 18, D’Von Campbell 5-13 5-6 16, AJ Spencer 7-11 0-0 15, Rozell Nunn 3-7 4-4 10, Alex Davis 2-8 5-9 9, Dre Henley 4-8 0-0 8, Tafari Whittingham 2-6 1-1 5, Nathan Jackson 0-0 0-0 0, Jack Pyle 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 28-68 22-27 81.
BARTON (22-5, 9-4)
Kevin Kuteyi 5-11 7-11 19, Raheem Johnson 7-14 4-6 18, Algie Key 4-14 10-15 18, Turon Parker 4-7 5-6 15, Rapheal Stephens 4-9 1-2 9, Andell Cumberbatch 2-7 1-2 5, Shaka Thomas 1-2 0-0 3, John Goodson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-64 28-42 87.
Halftime — Barton 42, Hutchinson 38. Three-point goals — Hutchinson 3-13 (Campbell 1-7, Spencer 1-1, Allen 1-3, Henley 0-1, Nunn 0-1); Barton 5-13 (Parker 2-4, Kuteyi 2-6, Thomas 1-2, Cumberbatch 0-1). Rebounds — Hutchinson 45 (Spencer 8); Barton 43 (Johnson 14). Assists — Hutchinson 14 (Allen 6); Barton 9 (Key 4). Steals — Hutchinson 5 (Campbell, Allen, Spencer, Nunn, Henley); Barton 3 (Kuteyi, Johnson, Stephens). Blocked shots — Hutchinson 6 (Davis 4); Barton 3 (Johnson 3). Turnovers — Barton 8, Hutchinson 6. Total fouls — Hutchinson 31, Barton 20. Fouled out — Hutchinson (Allen, Nunn, Davis); Barton (Cumberbatch). Technical fouls — Hutchinson (Davis, Henley); Barton (None). Ejection — Hutchinson (Whittingham).