For much of the game Saturday night at the Barton Gym, the Cougars men’s basketball team was in control. A win that would keep them in sight of the top spot in the Jayhawk Conference standings.
But the Cougar let that slip away the final 11 minutes and with it most likely any hope of a conference title.
Hutchinson outscored Barton 31-14 the final 11 minutes to secure an 82-74 win over the Cougars. The loss dropped Barton to 7-5 in the Jayhawks and losers in five of its last seven games. Barton is 15-8 overall. The No. 18 Blue Dragons stayed in the chase for a conference title with the win. Hutch is 9-3 in the Jayhawk and 20-3 overall.
Neosho County continues its hot play to lead the conference. Neosho is 10-2 in the Jayhawk and winners of nine straight. Pratt is 8-3.
Barton led from the start, pushing its lead to as high as 16-11 midway through the opening half. Hutchinson took its first lead at 20-19 during a 13-2 run which saw the Blue Dragons take a 24-19 advantage. Barton, however, closed the opening half strong, going on a 10-0 run of its own to take a 31-26 lead to halftime.
Barton continued to lead through the opening stages of the second half. The lead grew to eight when Tyrone Acuff scored a basket and added a free throw for a 43-35 lead with 14:39 to play. An Acuff trey with 11:14 left gave Barton a 50-41 lead.
That would be the end of the highlights for the Cougars. Hutchinson scored the game’s next eight points and eventually took its first lead of the second half with 5:57 to play, 54-53. Barton would lead just one more time – 55-54.
After retaking the 1-point lead, Barton would make just one of its next 11 field goal attempts as Hutchinson pulled out to a 72-61 lead – the biggest of the night for either team – with just 16 seconds left. Barton would add a late meaningless 3-pointer for the final.
Acuff and Ezekiel Charles each scored 13 to pace the Cougars with Dequandre Dentmond and Derek Dorn each adding 10.
Akbar Hoffman who had signed with St. John, scored 20 for Hutch to lead all scorers. Keanu Pinder, a New Mexico signee, added 15 points and nine rebounds while Shakur Juiston grabbed 12 boards.