Oh those second halves. It is those final 20 minutes in which the Barton Community College men’s basketball team seems to thrive.
The Cougars did it again Saturday at the Perryman Center, putting up 43 points and turning a halftime deficit into a 73-68 key Jayhawk West road win over Garden City.
The win moved Barton into sole possession of second place in the West with an 8-3 mark. The Cougars are 20-5 overall. Garden City fell to 3-8 in the West and 14-11 overall. Butler leads the conference with a 9-1 mark and Hutchinson is third at 7-4. Pratt is the only team above .500 at 6-4.
“Their record shouldn’t fool you,” Coach Craig Fletchall said of the Broncbusters. “They beat Butler last week. They are the only team to beat Butler this year so we knew it was going to be a challenge for us.”
Just how big have the second halves been for the Cougars this year in Jayhawk West play? The only game in which Barton had a bigger first half as the first one – when the Cougars scored 53 in the first half and 52 in the second.
Three times this season the Cougars have rallied from a halftime deficit to win the game – twice against Garden. The Cougars are averaging 49 points in the second half compared to 40 in the first half.
“The second half was big for us Saturday,” Coach Fletchall said. “We got some huge rebounds and played pretty well. It was good old school Jayhawk West basketball.”
Thanks to a slow start to the game, Barton played from behind most of the opening half and went to half down 32-30. It was the lowest scoring half of the conference season for the Cougars.
But not to worry the final 20 minutes belonged to Barton once again. Barton gained the lead early in the second half and by the midway point the Cougars lead had reached double digits.
Barton kept that lead the remainder of the way but watched as Garden slowly whittled it down. The lead was down three when Khalil Gracey buried a trey to make it 68-62 with 3:33 to play.
Another key shot came with Barton up 70-68 when Jalin Barnes knocked down a long 2-pointer to push the lead to 72-68 with less than two minutes to play.
Gracey paced the Cougars with 21 points on the strength of a 5-for-8 effort on the 3-pointers. He was joined in double figures by Ahmad Walker with 16 and Barnes with 11.
Walker added 12 rebounds for his fifth double-double in nine West games this season. It was his seventh overall this season. Barnes led the Cougars with four assists.
Jeremee Bennett led three Garden City players in double figures with 15. Tyrell Springer added 13 and Richie Spiller 11.