Whew. That dreaded first round of the Region VI Tournament is out of the way for the Barton men’s basketball team.
Now full attention can turn to the quarterfinals and the prospects of making a run deep into the tournament at Hartman Arena in Park City, just north of Wichita.
After losing in the first round the past three seasons – two at home – Barton survived a valiant effort by Seward County in the opening round to advance to quarterfinal action.
And while it has been three years since Barton got past that first round, the last time the Cougars did they played for a Region VI championship.
“That kind of got the monkey off our back,” Coach Craig Fletchall said. “Hopefully we can relax a little bit and go to Hartman Arena and play loose.”
Standing immediately in Barton’s way is Cowley. Another nemesis for Barton and Coach Fletchall in the post season. Four times in Coach Fletchall’s first six post seasons at Barton, Cowley ended the Cougars season.
Fletchall and the Cougars shook that hex the last time the two teams played in the post season when Barton won at Cowley in the quarterfinals on the way to the Region VI championship game in 2013.
“We have definitely seen them our fair share in the post season,” Coach Fletchall said. “They are good team almost every year, so it is not a big surprise we play them a lot in the playoffs.”
While Barton got past Seward in the opening round, Cowley rolled by Northwest Tech with the largest margin of victory in the opening round, 92-50. The Tigers led 50-16 at half.
Barton swept Cowley this year, winning 101-82 in Great Bend back in November then pulling out an 86-81 overtime win at Arkansas City to start February. In that game, Barton trailed by nine with seven minutes to play. The Cougars rallied, tied the game when Jahlil Rawley made two free throws with four seconds left, then scored 26 points in the overtime period for the win.
Cowley freshman Mike’l Simms has been hot of late. He scored 45 in the next-to-last regular season game of the year and is averaging 24.5 the past seven games. The 6-5 guard has topped the 20-point mark in five of those games.
The other game in the bottom half of the bracket will pit the 6th seed Coffeyville against upset winner Neosho County. Neosho, the No. 14 seed, rolled into Dodge City in the opening round and took down the No. 3 seed.
The Panthers built a big lead at Dodge then held off a rally by the Conquistadors. Neosho led by nine at half and were up 65-51 with just 7:30 left in the game. That proved to be too much for Dodge to overcome as the Conquistadors’ comeback ran out of time, losing 79-77.
Coffeyville had no trouble with Colby, rolling to a 77-56 win over the Trojans at Nellis Hall in Coffeyville.
On the top half of the bracket, top seeded Hutchinson had a bye to open and will take on Independence in the quarterfinals. Indy, the No. 9 seed, went to Garden City and dominated the No. 8 Broncbusters, winning 82-69.
Butler and Pratt will play in the other quarterfinal game on the top half. Butler, the No. 5 seed, easily disposed of Allen County, 90-71. Pratt, the No. 13 seed, traveled to No. 4 Cloud County and pulled off the upset win, 82-76.
Region VI Playoffs
First Round –
Thursday at home sites
1 Hutchinson received a bye
9 Independence 82, 8 Garden City 69
5 Butler 90, 12 Allen County 71
13 Pratt 82, 4 Cloud County 76
14 Neosho County 79, 3 Dodge City 77
6 Coffeyville 77, 11 Colby 56
7 Cowley 92, 10 Northwest Tech 50
2 Barton 76, 15 Seward 62
Quarterfinals - Sunday at
Hartman Arena in Park City
1 Hutch (29-1) v 9 Indy (14-16), 1 pm
5 Butler (18-12) v 13 Pratt (11-19), 3 pm
6 Coffeyville (19-12) v 14 Neosho (12-19), 5 pm
2 Barton (24-7) v 7 Cowley (17-14), 7 pm
Semifinals – Tuesday
at Hartman Arena
Hutch/Indy winner v Butler/Pratt, 7 pm
Barton/Cowley winner v Coffeyville/Neosho winner, 5 pm
Finals – Wednesday
at Hartman Arena
Championship game 7 pm