PRATT – By the time the Barton men’s basketball team tipped off Wednesday night at the Lesh Sports Arena in Pratt, big news had already taken place in the Jayhawk Conference race.
And those pesky Allen County Red Devils were right in the middle of things, once again. Those same Red Devils that lurked near the bottom of the conference. Those same Red Devils that had beaten Barton back in November. A loss that had looked as if it might cost the Cougars an outright title.
Wednesday afternoon, in a game moved up due to the impending weather, those same Red Devils did the Cougars a favor. Allen County handed Hutchinson an 87-86 loss, clearing the way for Barton to control its own destiny for that outright conference title.
But first things first. The Cougars had to take care of Pratt Wednesday night. Accomplished. Barton won at Pratt, 90-78. Barton is now 11-1 on the road this season.
“Road wins are big,” Coach Craig Fletchall said. “We are 11-1 on the road, that is pretty good in this league, in any league.”
With that win, the Cougars will now take on Coffeyville Saturday night with a chance to take over sole possession of the Jayhawk Conference lead.
Barton, Coffeyville, and Hutch all went into Wednesday tied at the top of the Jayhawk with a 19-4 mark. As of now, Barton is the only team at 20-4. Coffeyville and Butler moved their game to today, also thanks to the predicted weather on the way to southern Kansas Wednesday night.
The Cougars are 24-4 overall. Pratt is 9-15 in the Jayhawk and 12-16 overall.
“This league is good,” Coach Fletchall said. “Allen beat both Hutch and us. We lost to Indy. Cloud and Dodge beat Hutch. It’s just crazy.”
If Coffeyville beats Butler, it sets up a clash for sole possession of the Jayhawk lead Saturday at the Barton Gym. Coffeyville will come to Barton for the next-to-last game of the regular season.
Oh, and even earlier in the day, Barton dropped from No. 10 to No. 16 in the latest NJCAA poll after losing to Hutch last week. Hutch is No. 11 and Coffeyville No. 12.
The Cougars used a run in the early stages of the first half to get a lead at Pratt. A 6-0 run gave Barton a 10-5 lead five minutes into the contest.
The fast-tempo game was more fast than effective early as both teams turned the ball over and missed shots in the opening half. Eight minutes into the game, Barton led just 12-11.
The Cougars’ lead started to grow after back-to-back 3-pointers from Noah Webster gave Barton a 29-24 lead with seven minutes left in the half.
But the Beavers came storming back to take a 33-31 lead as the teams offensive efficiency began to improve in the latter stages of the first half.
The teams went to the locker room with Pratt up 37-33. Nothing new there for the Cougars.
“We have to play better in the first half,” Coach Fletchall said. “If we have one of those halves in the post season, we are done. That was disappointing. To be 28 games into the season and still not have the intensity to get out there and play hard and smart from the start, it’s disappointing.”
When the Pratt lead reached 49-42 with 15 minutes left, Coach Fletchall could only rub his head in frustration.
Elijah Ford changed that momentum with a fast-break dunk. Keshon Montague drained a trey the next trip down to cut that lead to 49-47 and calm the waters.
And when AJ Banks of Pratt tried to put some showboat on a steal and breakaway, his windmill dunk missed. Kian Dalyrimple made Banks and the Beavers pay with a trey and Barton had a 52-51 lead.
The Cougars kept scoring. A Webster trey, a Marvin Cannon baseline jumper, a Kawanise ‘Squeaky’ Wilkins tip-in, a driving layup from Ford. That allowed the Cougars to build a 63-58 lead midway through the half.
Barton would not trail again. Pratt didn’t go away, though.
Pratt had the lead to a single digit on a couple of occasions and following a bucket by Dawson Gunter, it was a 72-70 Barton lead with 6:18 left. But Gunter had a few things to say to an official following that bucket and was hit with a technical.
Cannon hit both free throws to extend the lead to four. The lead grew to six, 76-70 on a Webster layup with 5:45 to play. That matched the biggest lead of the game at the time.
A deep 3 by Montague with 3:12 left gave Barton an 81-73 lead.
The final 2:30 would see the Cougars at the free throw line a lot. Barton, while not perfect, hit enough charity tosses to put the game on ice.
Webster led Barton with 23 points. Wilkins added 15 points and 10 rebounds. Six Cougars hit double figures in the win. Cannon added 14, Montague 11, Ford 10 and Dalyrimple 10.
Jaylon Wilson led Pratt with 27 points.
Now its on to Saturday and the huge showdown with the Red Ravens. It is sophomore night and Hall of Fame day at Barton as well. Tip is set for 7:30 pm.
No. 16 Barton 90, Pratt 78
Barton 33 57 – 90
Pratt 37 41 – 78
Barton (20-4, 24-4) 90
Wilkins 5-10 5-8 15, Ford 5-8 0-3 10, Cannon 3-8 8-8 14, Montague 4-12 0-2 11, Webster 7-11 5-6 23, Dalyrimple 4-9 0-0 10, Andrews 0-1 0-1 0, White 1-2 2-2 4, Broomfield 1-3 1-2 3. Totals – 30-64 21-32 90.
Pratt (9-15, 12-16) 78
Banks 1-9 3-4 5. Wilson 7-17 11-13 28, Taylor 1-3 0-0 3, Bentley 2-9 0-2 5, Brooks 3-12 2-2 10, Gunter 3-7 2-2 9, Holmberg 0-2 0-0 0, Johnson 4-15 7-8 15. Totals –- 22-75 25-31 78.
3-pointers – Barton 9-24 (Webster 4-8, Montague 3-8, Dalyrimple 2-5, Wilkins 0-1, Cannon 0-2); Pratt 9-30 (Wilson 3-7, Brooks 2-7, Taylor 1-2, Gunter 1-3, Bentley 1-4, Holmberg 0-1, Banks 0-5).
Rebounds – Barton 47 (Wilkins 10), Pratt 48 (Brooks 11). Assists – Barton 8 (Montague 3), Pratt 8 (Banks 3, Taylor 3). Steals – Barton 5 (5 with 1), Pratt 10 (3 with 2). Blocks – Barton 2 (Ford, Montague), Pratt 0.
Turnovers – Barton 19, Pratt 14. Fouled Out – Brooks, Pratt; Cannon, Barton. Technicals –