ARKANSAS CITY — Forgive Barton Community College men’s basketball coach Craig Fletchall for having a brief flashback.
Cowley buried three 3-pointers during the opening four minutes in building a 14-2 lead over the Cougars on Tuesday night in a quarterfinal game of the NJCAA Region VI postseason tournament.
Fletchall said he couldn’t help but think for a moment about what happened last March against Cowley in the region semifinals at Hartman Arena in Park City. In that game, Cowley nailed 10 3-pointers and Barton struggled from the perimeter during the Tigers’ 76-67 win.
Tuesday night, No. 24-ranked Barton exacted revenge in a big way, draining 12 3-pointers, including seven from freshman guard Trey Unrau, as the Cougars offset 9-for-19 3-point shooting by Cowley and rallied in the second half for a 75-68 victory.
The Cougars (27-5) storm into Friday night’s semifinals in Park City against Seward County at 5:30. Seward, the three-time defending Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference Western Division champion, beat Independence 78-62 on Tuesday night.
“We fought some adversity and our guys showed some huge, huge, huge character,” Fletchall said. “To be on the road and being double digits down and fight away and chip away … that’s the maturity of our guards.
“When we took the lead, we picked it up on defense.”
Down 37-26 at halftime, Barton chiseled away at the Tigers’ lead, totaled 49 second-half points and shot a blistering 60.6 percent from the field (20 for 33) to silence the crowd at W.S. Scott Auditorium.
“We felt it should have been a five- or six-point game and I actually think our guys had confidence at halftime,” Fletchall said. “We’ve been down before on the road, but obviously, Trey was huge.”
Unrau scored a team- and career-high 21 points, hitting 7 of 11 from distance, including 4-for-6 after halftime.
“It’s all coming together,” said Unrau, who suffered a torn anterior cruciate in his knee last March while playing in the Class 3A state tournament for Moundridge High School, where he was the career scoring leader. “It’s finally almost a year. I’ve been feeling better and putting in the time with all of the guys. It’s not just me. It’s Kevin (Kuteyi) and Shaka (Thomas) … we’re shooting all of the time and it came together at the right time.
“I wanted it for the sophomores, more than anything. They’ve busted their butts the whole year, and they locked down on defense. The least I could do was fill my role and come in and hit some shots.”
Cougars freshman center Raheem Johnson had a double-double, scoring 16 points and grabbing 13 rebounds, and sophomore guard Al Key messed around and got a triple-double — scoring 11 points, securing 13 rebounds and dealing out 10 assists.
“I think Algie in transition started tracking so much attention that our guards were able to get their feet set and shoot,” Fletchall said. “Again, it was a big weakness from a year ago and we addressed it.
“Obviously, it paid some huge dividends tonight to have some perimeter shooters.”
In the first half, Cowley extended its lead to 21-7 with 11:40 left before intermission on Jame Milliken’s 3 before the Cougars started to creep back into contention.
Unrau came off the bench and nailed a trio of 3s for nine-first half points in 10 minutes of work. He hit his treys during a stretch from the 10:18 mark until 5:24 remained before the break, helping carve the deficit to 30-23.
Thomas later added another 3-pointer at the 1:40 mark to close the gap to 35-26 before Cowley scored the final points of the half.
Trailing by nine points, Barton started making its move after Turon Parker, plagued by foul trouble, and Unrau hit back-to-back 3s, trimming the margin to 44-41 at the 13:12 mark.
Key later scored off penetration, and Johnson had a vicious follow-slam to pull the Cougars within 49-45 with 11:50 remaining.
Shortly thereafter, Parker hit a pull-up jumper and popped in a 3-pointer from the top of the circle to give the Cougars a 50-49 lead with 10:56 to go.
Key later hit a driving layup and Unrau buried another trey to give the Cougars a 57-53 lead.
But Millliken, who scored a game-high 30 points, answered with a 3 to pull the Tigers within 57-56.
Barton had the final answer, though. Johnson scored off an alley-oop and then put in two points from underneath before Unrau rifled in back-to-back 3s for a 67-63 edge.
After Milliken cut the margin to 67-66 with his fifth and final 3 at the 2:12 mark, Barton scored eight points in the final 54.6 seconds to put a lid on it.
Cowley, which had eliminated Barton from the region playoffs in each of the last two seasons, finishes at 21-11.
National Junior College
Region VI Postseason
At Arkansas City
W.S. Scott Auditorium
No. 24 Barton Community College 75,
Trey Unrau 7-11 0-0 21, Raheem Johnson 8-11 0-0 16, Andell Cumberbatch 5-9 0-0 11, Turon Parker 4-9 0-0 11, Algie Key 4-14 3-6 11, Shaka Thomas 1-1 0-0 3, Rapheal Stephens 1-4 0-0 2, John Goodson 0-0 0-0 0, Kevin Kuteyi 0-7 0-1 0. Totals 30-66 3-7 75.
James Milliken 9-17 7-8 30, Dominique McKoy 7-18 3-3 17, Ben Vozzola 4-12 0-0 11, Curtis Evans 2-6 0-0 5, Adrian Goodlow 1-1 1-2 3, Rayshaun McGrew 1-4 0-0 2, Gabe Lynch 0-0 0-1 0, Kyler Steadman 0-4 0-0 0, Jeremy Fennell 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-62 11-14 68.
Halftime — Cowley 37, Barton 26. Three-point goals — Barton 12-27 (Unrau 7-11, Parker 3-7, Thomas 1-1, Cumberbatch 1-2, Kuteyi 0-4, Key 0-2); Cowley 9-19 (Milliken 5-9, Vozzola 3-8, Evans 1-2). Rebounds — Barton 44 (Key 13, Johnson 13); Cowley 35 (McKoy 11). Assists — Barton 17 (Key 10); Cowley 16 (Milliken 6). Steals — Cowley 6 (Evans); Barton 2 (Key, Parker). Turnovers — Cowley 9, Barton 7. Blocked shots — Barton 4 (Johnson 3); Cowley 2 (Evans 2). Total fouls — Barton 18, Cowley 11. Fouled out — Barton (Parker).
NJCAA Region VI
Postseason Basketball Tournament
Hutchinson 67, Seward County 52
Garden City 68, Coffeyville 45
Butler 76, Independence 62
Cowley 68, Cloud County 53
Hutchinson vs. Butler, 1:30 p.m.
Garden City vs. Cowley, 3:30 p.m.
Seward County 78, Independence 62
Hutchinson 82, Cloud County 64
Barton 75, Cowley 68
Coffeyville 81, Butler 70
Seward County vs. Barton, 5:30 p.m.
Hutchinson vs. Coffeyville, 7:30 p.m.