On the heels of three straight Jayhawk Conference losses by double digits there had to be a concern for a positive attitude to remain with the Barton women’s basketball team. Monday night at the Barton Gym should have put an end to those concerns.
Barton put some spark back its season with a 70-66 upset win over conference title contender Coffeyville. The Cougars used an 11-0 run late in the game to overcome a 9-point fourth quarter deficit.
“You can only get knocked down so many times,” Coach Trevor Rolfs said. “It gets harder to get up each time. We needed a win.”
The win improved the Cougars to 4-9 in the conference and 12-12 on the season. Coffeyville lost for just the third time in conference play and fell into a tie for third place. The Red Ravens are now 10-3 and 18-6.
The game was looking like a repeat performance from several of the Cougars conference games this season. Barton played well into the second half and were in position to win. Then it started to slip away. But this time was different. This time Barton righted the ship. This time the Cougars were the ones making the plays late.
“We finally turned the table,” Coach Rolfs said. “Usually we find a way to lose those games so nice to be on right side of coin.”
Barton took the lead midway through the first quarter. For the most the Cougars held that lead through the first half. The game remained close the entire half with Barton leading 31-27 at intermission.
The Cougars began to extend that lead in the third quarter, leading by as many as eight in the period. McKenna Kraus put the Cougars up 41-33 on a layup from Dominique Baker with 5:45 to play. The Cougars still led 43-35 with 5:18 to play on a bucket by Alexus Bryson.
Then it happened. Missed shots and turnovers plagued the Cougars the remainder of the quarter as Coffeyville overtook the Cougars. The Red Ravens outscored Barton 18-4.
Leading 53-47 to start the fourth quarter, Coffeyville continued to build on the lead, pushing it as high as 11 at 62-51. It was looking like another game was going to get away from the Cougars.
But this time Barton didn’t fade away. Buckets by Kraus and Kilee Harris made it 62-55. Coffeyville bumped it back to nine at 64-55 with 4:39 to play.
Those would be the final Red Raven points for three minutes. It was a fruitful three minutes for the Cougars.
Kraus made it 64-57 on a free-throw line jumper. The Cougars press forced a turnover in the backcourt as Megan Jirak tipped the ball away near the top of the key. Jirak handed the ball to Baker, who nailed a 3-pointer. Suddenly it was 64-60.
Harris scored the next possession for Barton thanks to an offensive rebound by Baker following her own missed three. The Red Ravens a rushed 3-pointer in transition after breaking the press. The Cougars snagged the miss, pushed the ball up the floor and forced a foul on a Baker layup attempt.
Baker hit both free throws and Barton had tied the Red Ravens at 64-all with 3:19 to play. The Red Ravens showed just how rattled they were at this point when Chanel Khammarath, Coffeyville’s leading scorer, fired an air ball on the 3-pointer.
Barton took the lead on a free throw-line jumper by Jirak with just more than two minutes left giving Barton seven straight possession with points.
The teams traded turnovers before Coffeyville finally ended the 11-0 run with a pair of free throws. Barton immediately grabbed the momentum back when Baker took the inbounds against the press and weaved 94 feet for a layup with 1:10 to play for a 68-66 lead.
Still down two, Coffeyville got the ball back with 40 seconds left and called a timeout to set up a play to either tie or take the lead. A jumper by Caletria Curtis missed. Kraus and a Red Raven tied up on the rebound but Barton had the possession arrow. From there it was a matter of hitting free throws with just 16 seconds left to secure the win for Barton.
The Red Ravens had two team fouls in the quarter, needing to foul three times to get Barton to the free throw line. That took five more seconds off the clock before the fifth foul finally sent Jirak to the line. She hit both with 11 seconds to make it 70-66.
Another missed three by Red Ravens ended their hopes of a win.
The Cougars were led by Baker with 15 points and a season-high nine assists. Bryson added 13 points and five assists, Jirak 10 points and seven rebounds, and Harris with nine points and 10 rebounds.
Thanks in part to those seven straight possessions with points, Barton hit 46 percent from the floor.
“We just did a better job of finishing,” Coach Rolfs said. “The difference is against Cloud we shoot 21 percent, against Hutch we shoot 31 percent. Against Coffeyville you look down and its 46 percent and your eyes about pop out of your head.”
Antoinette Daniels scored 12 for the Red Ravens and Curtis added 11.
Barton can continue shaping the top of the standings with a trip to Garden City Wednesday. Garden just lost at Hutchinson, 77-70, in a battle for sole possession of the conference lead. The loss snapped an 8-game winning streak. The Broncbusters are 11-2 in the Jayhawk and 17-7 overall.
“You have to give credit to the kids,” Coach Rolfs said. “They have been resilient all year. It doesn’t get any easy for us. Garden City is probably having its best year since they went to the national tournament in 2003. We are going to have our hands full again Wednesday.”