The term must-win game is often over-used. Perhaps would-be-really-really-nice-to-win would be more accurate. The Barton men’s basketball team had one of those games Wednesday night at the Barton Gym.
The Cougars had dropped three straight Jayhawk Conference games – all by four points or less. A team was coming to town that Barton had beaten by 26 on the road earlier this year. Throw in it was Sophomore Night at the Barton Gym.
So, while it may not have been a must-win, it was definitely a would-be-really-really-nice-to-win game.
The Cougars did just that. It wasn’t the same dominating performance as in Concordia, but the Cougars defeated Cloud County for the second time this season with a 66-57 win.
The win improved Barton to 10-8 in the Jayhawk Conference and 18-11 overall. Cloud sits at the bottom the Jayhawk with at 2-15 and 9-19.
“We finally were able to defend our home court,” Coach Craig Fletchall said. “Our guys came out and played hard and got the job done on sophomore night.”
Barton secured a home playoff game with the win. The Cougars will finish fifth in the conference. It is just a matter of how many teams will be tied with them for that spot as to where they will be seeded in the upcoming Region VI post-season tournament.
If Barton goes to Hutchinson and wins Saturday to close out the regular season it will fifth by itself. If the Cougars don’t win at Hutch, a whole host of teams are on their heels with nine losses.
Currently Colby is 9-9 with one game left and holds tiebreakers with Barton. So does Seward County who is 8-9. Those two play each other Monday so one will lose for sure. Butler and Garden City are also 8-9. The Cougars hold tiebreakers with those teams for head-to-head purposes.
Wednesday in the regular season finale at the home gym, Barton took a 6-0 lead on back-to-back 3-pointers by sophomores Jordan Windholz and Derek Dorn in the first minute.
The Cougars would never trail.
The lead grew to double digits at 22-11 before a Cloud County run got it as low as four. Barton went to half on top 33-25.
Things got a little dicey for Barton early in the second half. Cloud immediately got to lead as low as a pair, 38-36, and stayed within striking distance.
Barton was able to keep the Thunderbirds at bay, but could never pull away.
Dorn and Dequandre Dentmond led the way for Barton with 20 and 15 points each. Dentmond, also a sophomore, added nine rebounds.
Barton dominated the rebounds, winning the battle on the boards 39-19.
“That is one of our strengths,” Coach Fletchall said. “We generally rebound the ball pretty well and that made a big difference for us against Cloud.”
Now on to the season finale against Hutchinson. Hutch is tied with Neosho at 14-3 on top of the conference. Hutch won the head-to-head battle with Neosho so a pair of wins would give them the top seed in the post-season.