The final three games on the Barton women’s basketball team’s schedule were not going to be easy. The Cougars had to battle three traditional powers in the conference to close out the regular season. Two games into that stretch, Barton is 0-2.
The latest came as Cloud County, fresh off ending Hutchinson’s 132-game home court winning streak, defeated Barton 74-62, Wednesday night at the Barton Gym.
The loss drops Barton to 6-12 in the Jayhawk Conference and all but assures them the 11th seed in the upcoming Region VI tournament. Barton is 14-15 overall.
“Inconsistency hurt us,” Coach Trevor Rolfs said. “Mainly inconsistency between the quarters. We battled, but in the end they made plays in the final quarter and we didn’t.”
The Cougars are all but locked in the 10th spot in the Jayhawk standings but Northwest Tech is slated into the 10th seed in the tournament, bumping Barton down to 11th. Barton still has one more regular season game left – at Jayhawk Co-leader Hutchinson Saturday.
Barton is looking at a first round road game most likely at Coffeyville, Butler or Cloud.
Barton was in the Sophomore Night contest for much of the game. The Cougars trailed just 36-31 at halftime and came out on fire to start the third quarter thanks to the full court pressure causing Cloud problems.
Regan Unruh hit a pair of 3-pointers as well as a couple free throws to give the Cougars the lead. Barton grabbed a 39-36 lead on a 4-point play by Unruh. She hit a 3-pointer and was fouled just two minutes into the quarter. After converting the free throw, Barton had its first lead since 9-7.
Barton had some chances to extend that lead to five, but couldn’t convert.
“We went six straight possessions without scoring,” Coach Rolfs said. “And we don’t score, we can’t set up our press. That stretch hurt us. We have a chance to extend the lead and didn’t get it done.”
Barton still led the game late in the third, 47-45, following a pair of free throws by Dominique Baker with 2:09 to play.
That is when the game changed. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Cloud County gave the Thunderbirds a 51-47 and jump-started a 10-0 run to give Cloud a 55-47 advantage with 8:43 left in the game. Barton would not lead again.
The Cougars could only get as close as five after that. Cloud stretched the lead to 63-51 with an 8-0 run and got it as high as 14 late in the contest.
Unruh, a Great Bend freshman, led Barton with 18 points. Kilee Harris and Baker added 15 and 11 in their final games at the Barton Gym. Megan Jirak grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds.
Kaley Broeckelman and Erin Alexander each scored 20 to lead the Thunderbirds. Alexander added 14 rebounds – nine offensive.
“They hit 6-of-9 3-pointers in the second half,” Coach Rolfs said. “Alexander is pretty good in the post and we would help off on her and she would find an open shooter. They still had to knock those shots down, which they did.”
Now Barton will turn its focus to No. 14 Hutchinson on the road in the final regular season game of the year. The Blue Dragons are currently on a 2-game skid following losses at Seward County and at home to Cloud to break that home-court streak.