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Barton entertains Seward County with second at stake
Jayhawk West
spt mm Rapheal Stephens
Barton power forward Rapheal Stephens shoots a one-hander in the lane during its win over Cloud County on Wednesday night. - photo by Mack McClure Great Bend Tribune

Part 1 was accomplished on Wednesday night, when the NJCAA No. 19-ranked Barton Community College Cougars basketball team dismantled Cloud County 60-41 at Kirkman Activity Center.

"There was no overlooking Cloud," Cougars head coach Craig Fletchall said of his team's Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference Western Divison win. "We've talked about the importance of having a good week and obviously, we got the first half accomplished.

"We played good defense and we've got to have the same effort against Seward County."

The Cougars limited Cloud County to only 24.1-percent shooting (13 for 54) while giving up only 17 second-half points.

Part 2 comes Saturday night, as the Cougars (19-3, 6-2) take on Seward (15-7, 6-2), which had a six-game winning streak broken in an 87-74 loss at top-ranked and first-place Hutchinson (22-0, 8-0) on Wednesday evening.

It will be a battle for sole possession of second place in the West race between the pair of schools.

"Seward won the league title last year, finished third in the nation and was picked first (in the preseason poll this season)," Fletchall said. "They have a lot of pride, and they don't want to get swept."

Turn back the clock to Jan. 5, where the Cougars exorcised the demons of yesteryear, beating Seward 79-66 in Liberal — a team they had lost to in the conference opener in each of the last three seasons.

Moreover, it also snapped the Cougars' six-game losing streak to the Saints, who ran off six straight wins after the setback.

"I think what we can take (from that game) is that we threw the first punch and we got off to a 7-0 run and never trailed," Fletchall said. "That's kind of taking a page out of their textbook because that's what Seward kind of usually does. They went into Hutch and were up 19-4 to start the game.

"They usually come out on fire and are very physical early. I think it's just a matter of being the aggressor. We haven't lost at home this season, and it would be a big feather in our cap to knock off the (two-time) defending champions."