Perhaps it is the kind of win that will change the momentum.
After sailing through the Jayhawk West to a 6-1 start, the Barton Community College men’s basketball team had hit some rough waters. The Cougars had dropped back-to-back games for the first time this year.
To make matters worse they were staring in the face of a third straight setback Wednesday night at the Barton Gym. Then, in nearly a blink of an eye, the tide turned.
The end result was an 80-78 Barton win over Dodge City to keep the Cougars in a tie for second in the West. Barton improves 7-3 in conference, tied for second with Hutchinson. Butler, who had Wednesday off, leads the West with an 8-1 mark.
Things weren’t looking good against Dodge with just more than one minute to play and the Cougars down 78-72. But a series of events took place that few could script.
It started with an Ahmad Walker 3-pointer to make it 78-75 with 1:23 to play in the game. It came after his initial drive to the basket was blocked but the Cougars snagged the offensive rebound. The basket matched his career-high of 30 points at the time.
It got a little more interesting following a pair of missed free throws by Dodge City’s Brett O’Neil with 1:11 to play. And when Kenny Enoch buried a 25-footer in front of an excited Barton bench it got frenzied at the Barton Gym. It, too, gave Enoch a career-high of 23.
That tied the game 78-all with 55 seconds to play. But things were only beginning to get interesting.
Dodge ran the shot clock down and got two cracks inside five feet at taking the lead. The second one a point-blank putback attempt by 7-1 Payton Pervier with 15 seconds left that Barton’s Jalin Barnes snatched to give the Cougars a shot for the lead.
Following a timeout, Walker drove the lane in the waning second and was fouled by Pervier on his layup attempt with 4.3 seconds to play. Walker connected on the first free throw to a new career-high then added the second to give Barton an 80-78 lead.
That is when things got real crazy.
O’Neil, a former state champion quarterback for Scott City, inbounded the ball three-quarter court to Raheem Watts on the right wing. The ball was tipped before Watts grabbed it, turned and hit a 25-foot fall away 3-pointer with 2.8 seconds to play to give a Dodge an 81-80 lead.
Or so it appeared. Before Watts got his miraculous shot off, Dodge coach Kyle Campbell had called timeout.
“I didn’t know he had called timeout,” Barton coach Craig Fletchall said. “I just saw the kid hit a contested shot fading away. He drained it. I had no clue Dodge had called timeout.”
A stunned gym – players, coaches and fans alike – regrouped during a pair of timeouts for one last Dodge shot. It was a good one.
George Brock line up on the free throw elbow, rolled off a pair of screens across the top of the key and dove down to the right corner, the sideline O’Neil was throwing it in from. Brock took the pass, squared up and got off an open look for the game winner. The ball was on target but hit the back rim as time expired and the Cougars had an improbable win.
“We were fortunate to win,” Coach Fletchall said. “But I felt we were unfortunate last week at Cloud, so it all evens out I guess.”
Walker and Enoch were the only Cougars in double figures. Walker added eight rebounds to his 32 points. The duo hit 9-of-13 3-pointers between them. Enoch hit 5-of-10 and Walker was a perfect 4-of-4. As a team Barton hit 12-of-18 3’s, shot 49 percent from the field and turned the ball over just seven times.
Dodge put five players in double figures led by EJ Eaves off the bench with 17. Pervier added 16 points and 14 rebounds. Ameer Jackson added 14, Watts 13 and Brock 11.
The Cougars, 19-5 on the season, will travel to Garden City Saturday. Garden, 3-7 in the West, is the lone team to beat Butler this season, winning last Saturday in Garden. Garden is 14-10 on the season. Dodge City falls to 4-6 and 14-10.
Following the Garden City road trip Barton will host West leader Butler Monday then travel to Hutchinson Wednesday. Butler and Hutch will play each other Saturday in a stretch that will play big into the West race.
“We protected out home floor, now we have to go get one on the road,” Coach Fletchall said.