Two rather large games loom on the horizon for the Barton men’s basketball team.
Two games that could well determine the regular season Jayhawk Conference champion and a No. 1 seed in the upcoming Region VI Tournament.
But those two games – against ranked teams in Hutchinson and Coffeyville – won’t be nearly as large if the Cougars don’t take care of business in the other five games left on the schedule.
Make that other four games as the Cougars did eventually take care of business Wednesday night against Independence, winning 60-59, at the Barton Gym.
Barton once again had to rally from a halftime deficit after scoring a season-low 18 first half points.
Then the Cougars had to survive a near total collapse in the final minutes and a last-second shot by Independence to win the game.
The comeback from a halftime deficit was the 10th time in Jayhawk play Barton rallied for the win.
“That was a pretty ugly finish,” Coach Craig Fletchall said. “And it was a pretty ugly first half. Really, when it was all said and done, we got lucky to win this game.
“I love my guys. But right now we are not a good team. We have no leadership and no commitment to excellence. We have to figure it out quickly or we are not going to be leading this conference for long.”
The win keeps the Cougars in sole possession of the Jayhawk Conference lead at 17-3 in the league and 21-3 overall. Indy is now 10-10 and 13-10.
Right behind the No. 11 Cougars are those two traditional powers in No. 15 Hutch and No. 16 Coffeyville at 16-4 after wins Wednesday night as well. Both still have dates in Great Bend with Hutch in town Feb. 14 and Coffeyville at the Barton Gym on Feb. 24.
Those will be the final two regular season home games of the season for Barton.
In the win over Independence Wednesday night, it took what seemed like forever before the Cougars got on the scoreboard.
Barton didn’t score its first points until seven minutes were gone. During that time Barton committed seven turnovers, missed 10 shots, went four deep into the bench and the cheerleaders standing in the aisle waiting for that first Barton basket, left and went back to their spot on the baseline.
Fortunately, during that same span, Indy scored just seven points. So when Keshon Montague hit the putback, the Cougars trailed just 7-2.
Indy led by as many as nine before the Cougars got things rolling. Kawanise ‘Squeaky’ Wilkins hit a pair of free throws, Montague converted the hoop and harm and Marvin Cannon made a pair of free throws and suddenly Barton was down just 15-13 with 8:20 to play.
The Cougars weren’t able to catch up the Pirates and, eventually, Indy went on a run to push its lead to 27-18 at halftime.
Indy briefly got the lead to 11 to start the second half before Barton got things.
Wilkins and Cannon both made their first field goals of the game and Noah Webster added his first trey of the night to make it 29-25. A steal by Montague and layup by Webster cut it to a pair at 29-27 with 16:42 to play.
The Cougars finally caught the Pirates with 14:32 to play when Cannon hit a pair of free throws to make it a 33-all contest – the first tie since the opening tip.
Barton took its first lead of the game when Akeem White hit a driving layup midway through the second half for a 39-38 lead. Cannon extended it to 42-40 on a 3-pointer the next trip down with 9:20 left in the game.
Webster hit two free throws to make it 46-42 with 7:23 to play. Montague pushed the lead to 49-44 on a trey from the deep right corner. He followed with a runner in the lane for a 51-45 lead with five minutes to play.
Barton extended it to 53-45 on a Webster driving layup through traffic. Two Montague free throws with 4:07 gave the Cougars a double digit lead, 55-45.
Game over, right? Not by any stretch.
Things began to get interesting with 2:21 left after Wilkins picked up a technical foul, allowing Indy to cut it to 57-51 on free throws by DeAnthony McCallum and then to 57-53 on the bucket that followed at the 2:04 mark.
The lead got down to 58-55 with 1:35 left. Elijah Ford held Indy off when he snagged a Webster airball on a trey and quickly put it in to beat the shot clock and give Barton a 5-point lead with 1:12 to play.
The Cougars tried to give the game away, sending Indy’s best player, McCallum, to the free throw line for two points on a foul 25 feet from the basket. Barton then turning the ball over twice in a matter of 10 seconds.
The Pirates cut it to 60-59 with 43 seconds to play on a McCallum bucket. After a desperation 3-pointer to beat the shot clock by Montague missed, Indy had one last shot to win the game.
That shot, a 3-pointer by Ricky Edwards, just ahead of the buzzer, bounded off and the Cardiac Cougars had survived, despite scoring a season-low 60 points.
Cannon led Barton with 21 points, thanks to a 12-of-12 effort at the free throw line. Montague added 13.
Barton made just 17-of-58 field goals for 29 percent.
McCallum led Indy with 19.
Next up for Barton is a trip to Dodge City Saturday afternoon. The Jayhawk battle with the Conquistadors will tip a 3 pm. Dodge is 6-14 in the Jayhawk and 8-16 overall.
No. 11 Barton 60, Indy 59
Indy 27 32 – 59
Barton 18 42 – 60
Independence (10-9, 13-9) 59
McCallum 6-12 6-6 19, Torres 2-3 0-2 4, Grant 1-4 0-0 2, Jefferson 4-8 2-2 10, Pollack 1-8 2-4 4, Hansen 2-5 4-6 8, Durham 0-1 0-0 0, Talbert 1-5 0-0 2, Kelly 1-1 1-1 3, Edwards 1-3 0-0 2, Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Gordon 1-2 0-0 2, Berry 0-0 0-0 0, Jones 1-2 0-0 2, Maze 0-0 0-0 0. Totals – 21-54 15-21 59.
Barton (16-3, 20-3) 60
Wilkins 1-12 2-2 4, Ford 2-2 0-0 4, Cannon 4-9 12-12 21, Montague 4-11 4-7 13, Webster 3-10 2-2 9, Andrews 0-0 0-0 0, Haist 0-0 0-0 0, Thomas 0-0 0-0 0, White 2-7 0-4 4, Dalyrimple 1-3 0-0 3, Broomfield 0-4 2-2 2. Totals – 17-58 22-29 60.
3-pointers – Indy 2-11 (Gordon 1-2, McCallum 1-3, Grant 0-1, Jefferson 0-1, Hansen 0-1, Durham 0-1, Edwards 0-2); Barton 4-18 (Cannon 1-2, Dalyrimple 1-2, Montague 1-4, Webster 1-5, Wilkins 0-4).
Rebounds – Indy 40 (Grant 6); Barton 41 (Wilkins 9). Assists – Indy 10 (Torres 3); Barton 8 (Ford 3). Steals – Indy 4 (Torres 3); Barton 10 (Webster 3). Blocks – Indy 7 (Pollack 3). Barton 9 (Wilkins 3, Cannon 3)
Turnovers – Indy 21, Barton 13. Fouled Out – None. Technicals – Wilkins, Barton.