It was just what Craig Fletchall wanted to see. The Barton men had lost three straight basketball games. The Cougars showed some signs of breaking out of their funk in the second half of their most recent loss.
The veteran coach knew if his club was to get back to that team that started 5-0 in the Jayhawk Conference they needed to carry that play over to its Wednesday road contest at Cloud County.
The Cougars did just that. Barton used a big run at the end of the first half to take control of the contest on the way to an 87-61 win at Arley Bryant Gym in Concordia. The margin was the second largest for Barton at Bryant Gym.
“It was a good win for us,” Coach Fletchall said. “We played well against Seward in the second half. I was hoping that was kind of a turning point for us to get back to playing better basketball. So far so good.”
The Cougars are still very much in the hunt for the Jayhawk title thanks to their great start. Barton is 7-4 in the Jayhawk, sitting in fourth place. The Cougars are just on game back in the loss column from Hutchinson and Pratt. Hutch 8-3 and will visit the Barton Gym Saturday. Pratt is 7-3. The Cougars already have a win at Pratt this season.
Overall Barton is 15-7. Cloud lost for the sixth straight time and is now 1-10 in the conference and 8-14 overall.
Neosho leads the conference at 9-2 and winners of eight straight Jayhawk games. Neosho will get tested over the next week with three games. Among those three are games at traditional Jayhawk power Coffeyville as well title fellow title contender Pratt.
Wednesday at Bryant Gym, the Cougars led most of the first half then took control late in the half. Barton closed the final five minutes on a 17-8 run to go to the locker room with a 41-27 lead.
Barton picked up right where it left off to start the second half. Barton pushed it to 50-34 then 60-37 and eventually 72-44 at the midpoint of the second half.
The Cougars cruised home for the easy win. Barton shot 56 percent in the win. The first time the Cougars have been over the 50 percent mark since the first game of January when Barton hit exactly 50 percent in a win at Allen County. The Cougars connected on 30-of-54 from the field.
Barton limited its 3-point shooting to just 12 attempts and hit seven on those for a sizzling 58 percent. Those 12 attempts were the fewest since November and the third lowest of the season.
The seven makes were the most since November as well – tied with seven the Cougars made in their last outing on 22 attempts. It was also the first time since November Barton shot higher than 50 percent on 3s.
The 87 points were the most this season against another 2-year school.
“Offensively we played about as well as we have all season,” Coach Fletchall said.
Dequandre Dentmond matched his career-high with 24 points on some great shooting of this own. Dentmond hit 7-of-9 from the field and a perfect 10-for-10 on free throws. As a team Barton was also deadeye at the charity stripe, hitting 20-of-23.
Tyrone Acuff scored 14, Anthony Smith 12 and Malik McMillan 11. Ezekiel Charles led Barton with eight rebounds to go with seven points.
Deon Lyle scored 12 points off the Cloud bench – hitting 4-of-7 3-pointers.
The Cougars turn their focus to one of the three teams ahead of them as well as one of its biggest rivals when Hutchinson visits the Barton Gym Saturday. The Blue Dragons have won three straight since suffering a 3-game losing skid. Those are the only three losses this season for the 19-3 Dragons.
Hutch hasn’t played since its 70-60 win in Concordia Saturday.
Tip is set for the traditional 7:30 start time. It will be Homecoming for the Cougars as well as Pink Out Night at the gym.