It was the largest crowd of the year. The atmosphere was electric. It just may have been the biggest home game in the 13 years Craig Fletchall has been coaching the Barton men’s basketball team.
But, for some reason, home has not been the best friend for the 11th ranked Cougars this season.
So when No. 14 Hutch built a double digit lead and took a 7-point lead to halftime that crowd had been quieted and the atmosphere had lulled.
But coming back from halftime deficits is nothing new for Barton. However, when Hutch came out and scored the first eight points of the second half, the hill was a little too step for the Cougars to climb.
The Blue Dragons came in and handed the Cougars just their fourth loss of the season and with it threw the Jayhawk Conference race into a free-for-all.
Hutch beat Barton, 85-72. Couple that with Coffeyville’s win over Colby and suddenly there is a 3-way tie for the conference lead with four games to play. Barton, Hutch and Coffeyville are all 18-4. Everyone else has at least eight losses.
“I was pretty disappointed with the way we started both halves,” Coach Fletchall said. “It was just a grind for us tonight. We didn’t attack the basket at all.”
Barton came out and missed the first four shots it put up – all 3-pointers as Hutch built a 7-0 lead. During that run, Hutch hit a pair of treys and quieted the rowdy student section. The first half was uphill for Barton after that.
That would be a theme for the night. Barton made just 6-of-29 treys and Hutch knocked down 9-of-16.
Finally an Akeem White tip-in put Barton on the board with 16:20 to play. That started a 5-1 run for White that got the Cougars back in the game at 8-5. When Keshon Montague finally did knock down a 3-pointer it was tied 8-all with 15:15 to go.
Hutch pulled out to a 30-22 lead with 6:21 to play in the half following a quick 5-0 run. After a timeout Barton responded. White scored on a layup and Kawanise ‘Squeaky’ Wilkins knocked down a trey and it was 30-27.
That would be the last time Barton was nipping on the Blue Dragon’s heels.
Hutch kept the offensive pressure on, building a 39-29 lead with 2:20 left in the opening half. The Blue Dragons took a 41-34 lead to intermission.
“We’ve come back from halftime deficits several times,” Coach Fletchall said. “We knew we still had a chance. We just came out flat in the second half as well and that was pretty much the game right there.”
Hutch took control of the contest with that 8-0 run to start the second half to build a 49-34 lead.
The Cougars never were able to mount a serious rally. Not even a Marvin Cannon dunk that cut the margin to 12 and brought the student section to its feet with just less than 16 minutes left could spark a rally.
Another pump fake, double-clutch dunk by Cannon with just more than 10 minutes to play cut the lead to 63-48 and again, got the crowd roaring.
That was followed by a technical foul on Curtis Hollis of Hutchinson and the two ensuing free throws by Montague cut the lead to 13. The Cougars had a couple possessions to cut the lead even more but failed to score.
A 3-pointer by Tyler Cotton of Hutchinson squashed any hopes of a run by Barton, pushing the lead back to 66-50 with 8:28 left.
The Cougars never got the lead under 10 after that 8-0 start to the second half by the Blue Dragons.
Home has not been kind to Barton. The loss was the third of the season at the Barton Gym. The Cougars have now trailed at intermission in nine of the 12 home Jayhawk Conference games, including the last six. Barton is 9-3 at home in conference play.
Wilkins led the Cougars 22 points and 14 rebounds. He was joined in double figures by Montague with 16, Elijah Ford and Cannon with 10 each.
Hutch was led by James Rojas with 22 points. Devonte Bandoo added 19 and Robert Whitfield 16.
Next up for Barton is back-to-back road games. The Cougars will travel to Cloud County Saturday then off to Pratt Wednesday.
That may be better for the Cougars. On the road the Cougars are 9-1 with the only loss at Hutchinson. Barton has trailed at half in five of those 10 road games but won four of them.
“We are just going to have to play better basketball,” Coach Fletchall said. “We can’t have one loss turn into two. We have to play better than we have the past couple of weeks.”
Tip for both contests will be 8 pm.
No. 14 Hutchinson 85, No. 10 Barton 72
Hutch 41 44 – 85
Barton 34 38 – 72
Hutchinson (17-4, 21-4) 85
Bandoo 6-10 4-5 19, Rhymes 3-11 2-5 8, Whitfield 7-6 0-0 16, Nuhu 0-2 4-6 4, Mitchell 2-6 0-0 4, Hollis 1-3 0-0 2, Cotton 2-3 2-2 8, Taylor 1-4 0-1 2, Rojas 8-12 4-4 22. Totals – 30-67 16-23 85.
Barton (18-3, 22-3) 72
Wilkins 6-14 7-8 22, Ford 4-12 2-4 10, Cannon 4-11 2-2 10, Montague 5-18 3-5 16, Webster 0-5 0-0 0, White 4-6 1-4 9, Dalyrimple 1-3 1-1 3, Andrews 0-0 0-0 0, Haist 0-0 0-0 0, Thomas 0-0 0-0 0, Broomfield 1-3 0-0 2. Totals – 25-72 16-24 72.
3-pointers – Hutch 9-16 (Bandoo 3-5, Cotton 2-3, Rojas 2-3, Whitfield 2-5); Barton 6-29 (Wilkins 3-9, Montague 3-9, Broomfield 0-1, White 0-2, Dalyrimple 0-2, Cannon 0-3, Webster 0-3).
Rebounds – Hutch 54 (Mitchell 11); Barton 39 (Wilkins 14). Assists – Hutch 17 (Bandoo 6); Barton 12 (Montague 6). Steals – Hutch 5 (Bandoo 2); Barton 4 (Ford 2). Blocks – Hutch 2 (Mitchell 2). Barton 8 (Wilkins 2, Ford 2)
Turnovers – Hutch 13, Barton 7. Fouled Out – None. Technicals – Hollis, Hutch.