As far as Barton Community College head basketball coach Craig Fletchall is concerned, the Cougars need to ratchet up their play.
And, if 19th-ranked Barton wants to keep pace with the upper crust in the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference Western Division race, it is paramount to do so.
“This is a big week,” said Fletchall, whose team plays host to Cloud County (12-9, 3-4) tonight at 7:30 at Kirkman Activity Center/LT & Sheila Fleske Court before Seward County comes calling on Saturday night. “A big, big week.
“Right now, Hutch and Seward are starting to pull away (in the West race) and we’re right there. We host them both, and we’ve got to play better than we have the last couple weeks.”
NJCAA Division-I top-ranked Hutchinson (21-0, 7-0) leads the West by one game over Seward (15-6, 6-1).
The Cougars (18-3, 5-2), who sit two games back of Hutch, are coming off a 62-60 overtime victory over the Pratt — the fourth straight year these two teams have played at least one OT game and the third time in four trips to Pratt that the game went into an extra session.
Saturday night, Barton guard Al Key hit a game-tying basket in the lane with 37 seconds left in regulation, sending the game into overtime tied at 57. He also snagged a key rebound after a Beavers late miss in OT to help preserve the Cougars’ fifth straight win in Pratt.
Nonetheless, Fletchall says his team needs to regain some swagger, and also get their feet squared up and knock down some shots.
The Cougars made only 35.1 percent of their shots (20 for 57) against Pratt. Worse yet, they made only 2 of 15 3-pointers (13.3 percent).
“We’ve got to do a better job on the perimeter,” Fletchall said. “We can’t have 2-for-15 shooting on 3s.”
Key, a 6-foot-4 sophomore and a returning third-team All-America selection from last season, had 22 points and 11 rebounds against Pratt, his fourth double-double of the season and the 11th of his two-year career.
Key has scored 21 or more points in three of the last four games.
• Women’s game tips at 5:30
The Lady Cougars are 12-8, 2-5, and Cloud County sits in third place in the West at 5-2 and 15-6 overall.