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Barton men roll to wins over East foes
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Two more games and two more wins. A pair of wins for the Barton Community College men’s basketball team over the weekend pushed the Cougars winning streak to eight as Barton has bolted out of the gates to a 10-1 record.
Barton posted the two wins over Jayhawk East foes Independence Community College and Cowley Community College at the Best Western Booster Club Thanksgiving Classic at the Barton Gym. The Cougars rolled by Independence 87-70 Friday and followed with an 80-75 win over Cowley Saturday.
While the traditionally strong teams from the East both schools have down records this year. But that didn’t take away from the wins for the Cougars.
“I think at the end of the day they have played tough schedules and both rolled out a lot of freshmen,” Coach Craig Fletchall said. “I expect both will get it going in conference play and by March will host home playoffs games as usual.”
Ahmad Walker, a sophomore guard from New York, had a big Classic for the Cougars. Walker scored 27 in the win over Indy then nearly matched that total Saturday tossing 26 against Cowley.
“He really had a good weekend,” Coach Fletchall said of the transfer from Stoney Brook College. “He carried us on his back for some stretches over the weekend.
In the win over Cowley, Barton led most of the way. Barton closed out the first half on a 14-7 run to go to intermission with a 35-26 lead.
The Cougars kept their lead through the first portion of the second half but a 9-0 Cowley run capped by a Soufiyane Diakite basket gave the Tigers a 53-50 lead with 11 minutes left. That lead would grow to 59-52 at the midway point of the second half.
Barton, though, would rally. Paced by five points from Walker and a 3-pointer from Jalin Barnes, the Cougars put together a 12-0 run over the four minutes to take a 64-59 lead. The Cougars would not trail again.
Barton pushed its lead to eight on a Tyrone Acuff jumper with 3:48 to play for a 70-62 lead. Cowley did get the lead down to three with one minute to play but a Khalil Gracey jumper pushed it back to five then Barton hit 5-of-6 free throws in the final 30 seconds for the win.
In addition to the 26 point effort from Walker, Barnes finished with 21 and Acuff 10. Walker posted his first double-double for the Cougars as the 6-4 guard led Barton with 10 rebounds. He also paced the Cougars with five assists. Diakite scored 23 to lead Cowley which fell to 1-7.
“We got into some foul trouble with our post players,” Coach Fletchall said. “Offensive rebounds kept Cowley going and was our Achilles heel.”
Cowley ended the night with 16 offensive rebounds.
Barton had a somewhat easier time of it Friday in the win over Indy. Barton played from in front most of the way, leading 44-36 at the half. Indy kept things close early in the second half using a 7-0 run to cut Barton’s lead to 49-48 with 15 minutes left in the game.
Barton wasn’t able to shake the Pirates until an 8-1 run capped by back-to-back buckets from Tyron Hamby gave the Cougars a 64-54 lead with 8:42 left. Indy would get the lead under 10 just twice the rest of the way ad Barton pulled away for the 17 point win.
Walker led five Cougars in double figures with 27 followed by Christian Smith with 16 off the bench. In fact three of the five players in double figures came off the Barton bench. Tracey and Hamby each added 11 off the bench. Acuff scored 10. Walker also led Barton with eight rebounds and four assists.
Indy, which fell to 3-6, was led by Jerry Melton with 16.
“It was a good weekend for us,” Coach Fletchall said. “We faced some adversity and were able to play through it, which was nice. We played without Eddie Hunt Friday with a bad ankle and played through foul trouble Saturday. We maybe didn’t play that well but we still found a way to win.”
The Cougars will now get Brown Mackie, a team that also beat Cowley and Indy at the Thanksgiving Classic over the weekend. Brown Mackie will visit the Barton Gym Saturday for a 3 pm tip. The Lions are currently 8-3 on the season.