A pattern has developed the last three games for the Barton men’s basketball team. It’s not a good pattern.
That theme has been – fall behind by double digits, rally, come up short, lose.
Saturday it happened at home against Seward County in a very intense battle. Barton trailed by double digits just minutes into the game. The Cougars battled back, even took the lead, but lost late in a thriller. The Saints left a ruckus Barton Gym with a 79-77 win in Jayhawk Conference basketball.
“We showed more fight and more energy in the second half,” Barton Coach Craig Fletchall said. “That is something that has been lacking the last few games. It’s just too bad we had to fall behind so far before we showed it.”
The loss is the third straight in conference play for Barton. The Cougars are now 6-4 in the conference and 14-7 overall. Seward is also 6-4 in the conference and 16-5 overall. That leaves the two tied for fourth.
Neosho continues to lead with a 9-2 Jayhawk mark and have won eight straight games in the conference. Hutchinson and Pratt both have three losses. Hutch is 8-3 while Pratt is 6-3. Dodge City is right behind Barton and Seward at 5-4. The rest of the conference has at least five losses.
Seward jumped to an 18-4 lead just four minutes and two Barton timeouts into the game. The lead grew to 18 points before Barton started to battle its way back.
The Cougars cut it to 40-37 but Seward pushed the lead back to 49-41 by half.
The second half was a war the entire 20 minutes. Barton held Seward to just three points the opening six minutes of the half and was able to even game at 52-all on an Eddie Hunt put back.
The emotions picked up a notch a few minutes later. With Seward leading 54-52 Anthony Smith was called for an over the back foul on an offensive rebound. At that point Smith and Seward’s Kris Williams exchanged words and bumps.
With only a technical foul called on Smith, Coach Fletchall was not happy to say the least. Eventually a fired up Fletchall was tagged with a technical of his own by referee Craig Helser.
Two different Saints combined to make three of the four free throws to give Seward a 57-52 lead with 12:24 to play.
The intensity picked up another notch from there. A big block by Hunt that led to a follow dunk by John Barbee on the ensuing fast break to make it 57-54 had the crowd in frenzy.
Seward built their back to 62-54 following a steal and a dunk by Niem Stevenson. Immediately following the dunk by Stevenson, Seward’s James Byrd was hit with a technical foul for taunting away from the action with 9:24 left. Ezekiel Charles made both free throws.
Before the Cougars could inbounds following the free throws, Helser banged Seward Coach Bryan Zollinger with a technical as he stood up and said something next to him while walking away. Charles stepped back to the line and hit two more to make it 62-58.
The battled continued between the two old rivals. The Cougars got the gym rocking when Derek Dorn, a transfer from Seward, found Dequandre Dentmond with a no-look pass following a steal. Dentmond threw down a hard one-handed fast-break dunk to tie the game at 70 with 4:30 to play.
The Cougars continued their run with a Dorn trey to give Barton a 73-70 lead with 3:40 to play. It was the first time all afternoon Barton had a lead.
The lead would be short-lived. Seward scored the game’s next six points and never trailed after that. Barton would score just two points over a 3:30 span before a bucket the final seconds made it 79-77.
“Seward made plays late and we didn’t,” Coach Fletchall said. “I am proud of our kids for their fight, we just couldn’t make the plays late.”
Dorn led the Cougars on the afternoon with 20 points, five steals and four assists. Charles and Smith added 14 each and Dentmond 12. Smith finished with 14 rebounds as well for his second double-double of the season.
Stevenson, the Jayhawk’s leading scorer, led Seward with 23 points followed by 19 for Byrd. Seward hit 11-of-24 3’s.
The Cougars will look to get back on track Wednesday at Concordia. The Cougars will take on a 1-9 Cloud County team that is 8-13 overall. The Thunderbirds only Jayhawk win came at Butler to start January, 78-73. Cloud has lost five straight since.
“If we play with the same passion we played with in the second half, we will be just fine,” Coach Fletchall said. “We have had a tough stretch of games. Hopefully we turned the corner in the second half.”