The 2014-15 basketball season if officially off and running for the Barton Community College men’s basketball team. With several new faces on the roster, the Cougars were able to get a good look at them with a pair of easy wins at the Best Western/Pizza Hut Classic at the Barton Gym over the weekend.
The Cougars cruised past Fort Scott Community College Friday by a 97-76 score then rolled by Pure Prep Academy out of Iowa Saturday 103-52 to tip off the season with a 2-0 mark.
“I thought we came out a little wild,” Coach Craig Fletchall said. “We came out a little too aggressive wanting to play in front of our home crowd. We fouled a lot early, committed some early turnovers and just looked young and raw.”
The Cougars played from in front most of the way Friday in the opener but couldn’t shake the pesky Greyhounds. Barton never pushed the lead to double digits the entire first half but did go to intermission with a 47-39 lead.
It wasn’t until the opening minutes of the second half before Barton got that lead to double digits on the heels of a 6-0 run. That gave Barton a 56-43 lead with 17:09 to play following a layup form Tyrone Acuff off an Ahmad Walker pass.
Once the Cougars got the lead to double digits the Greyhounds never got it under 10. Fort Scott did cut it to 58-48 but Walker responded with a 3-pointer. A 12-3 run by Barton midway through the half put the game away. The run was capped by another Acuff basket to give Barton a 73-54 lead.
The Cougars dominated points in the paint 48-26 as well as points off turnover at 31-4.
Acuff, a 6-5 freshman from Detroit, led the way for the Cougars with 22 points on 10-of-13 shooting from the field. Walker, a 6-4 sophomore transfer from Stony Brook College, added 19 points, eight assists, eight rebounds and five steals. Kenny Enoch, another sophomore guard transfer, added 17 points.
Fort Scott was led by Will Harrington with 23 points and Xavier Hunter with 17.
“Our sophomore transfer guards are farther along and that showed,” Coach Fletchall said. “Our forwards just need to get more game experience.
“They played pretty good for the most part over the weekend but right now we lack experience. We didn’t rebound very well. There is no one to just count on for 10 rebounds and 5 blocks.”
Saturday Barton got off to a sluggish, trailing 12-10 15 minutes into the game. But a 14-2 run gave the Cougars a 24-16 lead on a Walker layup. Another big run – this time 9-0 – gave Barton a 45-26 lead on an Enoch bucket as Barton opened up a 48-30 halftime lead and cruised in the second half.
Enoch scored 18 on 8-of-12 shooting to pace four Cougars in double figures. The Indianapolis native also led Barton with nine rebounds. Sophomore Christian Smith added 15 points highlighted by a 5-of-8 night on 3-pointers from the Bishop Carroll product. Jalin Barnes added 14 and Khalil Gracey 10. Walker again led Barton with eight assists.
“In terms of depth I thought we would better this year and I think that showed,” Coach Fletchall said. “We have some guys who can come in and knock down the three. We just don’t have those wings that will go get the ball rebounding.
“I was very pleased with how unselfish we played. Sometimes you get in those games you are up big and guys want to go get theirs but I thought our guys stayed unselfish and that is a good sign.”
The Cougars will hit the road this weekend, traveling to Dodge City for the Dodge City Classic. The Classic will start with a rematch with Fort Scott at 3 pm Friday. The Cougars will battle the 19th ranked team in the nation Saturday when Barton takes on State Fair (Iowa) Community College at 3 pm.
“One of the good things the first couple of weeks is we are just playing on the weekends,” Coach Fletchall said. “That give us time to get back and practice for a week. I am looking forward to having a several days of practice before we play again.”