EMPORIA — Algie Key, the fearless freshman guard and penetrating force for the Barton Community College Cougars, has been named as the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference Western Division Freshman of the Year.
The 6-foot-3 Key was also the lone freshman to make either the Jayhawk West first or second team. Sophomore power forward Dwayne Brunson was named to the second team.
One of the top outside-inside combinations in the conference, Key and Brunson lead the Cougars into today’s NJCAA Region VI quarterfinals against No. 5-ranked Coffeyville (27-3) at 1 p.m. at Hartman Arena in Park City, located on the outskirts of Wichita off Interstate 135.
“First and foremost, he’s played so many minutes and he’s been worn out and getting beat up,” Barton head coach Craig Fletchall said of Key, a Decatur, Ga., native, who averaged 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists in leading the Cougars to a 24-6 regular-season record.
“He’s got that bruised deltoid muscle (in his right shoulder) that has been bothering him for a month and he’s just been taking a lot of hammering. Yet his consistency alone has been key. He’s resilient and we’ve run him out there at least 37 minutes per game every game.”
The 6-7 Brunson averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds on the season, and had double-doubles in six of the Cougars’ last eight games.
“He’s been a very good player for us, one of our best players over the last two seasons,” Fletchall said. “It looks like he’s going to keep playing as he’s being recruited pretty heavily.”
It will be a stiff test today for the Cougars, but Fletchall says the passion, which he questioned with his team in recent weeks, returned last Wednesday in an opening-round Region VI 95-73 win over Neosho County at Kirkman Activity Center.
“I questioned their passion the final couple weeks of the season and on Wednesday, we looked like a team that wanted to play on,” Fletchall said.
“Coffeyville, we respect them and we don’t fear them. They are awfully good, and they’re the best team that we will play. They don’t have a lot of weaknesses. They’re really big inside and they have two of the best perimeter shooters in the country.”
Ravens guard Charles Hammork, a 6-6 sophomore from New Orleans and the Jayhawk East MVP, leads his team with a 15.5 scoring average. He has buried 49 of 120 3s (40.8 percent). His backcourt mate, 6-4 Dawon Cummings, is averaging 14 points. He has hit 69 of 192 3-pointers for 35.9 percent.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Bryan Zollinger, Seward County
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
Deverell Biggs, Seward
Algie Key, Barton
FIRST ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM
Name College Ht. Yr.
Deverell Biggs Seward 6-0 So.
Algie Key Barton 6-4 Fr.
Devon Branch Cloud 6-5 So.
Anthony Thomas Hutchinson 6-7 So.
Richard Carter Cloud 6-0 So.
RJ McGhee Dodge City 6-6 So.
Jamie Adams Colby 5-9 So.
Tyshon Pickett Dodge City 6-6 So.
Chauncy Williams Garden City 6-1 So.
Brunson, Dwayne Barton 6-7 So.
HONORABLE MENTION ALL-CONFERENCE
Irvin Hollinger Seward 6-5 So.
Daveon Boardingham Seward 6-7 So.
Bryton Hobbs Pratt 6-1 So.
Alex Davis Hutchinson 6-9 Fr.
Carson Konrade Colby 6-3 So.
** Players were nominated by their coaches and then voted on by opposing coaches, who did not vote for their own players, in their respective divisions.