It has been a hectic nine days for the Barton Community College men’s basketball team. Nine days that including five games, three suspensions, two ranked opponents and one rival. Oh, yeah, and four wins.
It concluded Wednesday night at the Barton Gym when the Cougars rolled by No. 12 Hutchinson Community College 105-93. And for those that haven’t taken much notice of the Cougars so far this season, Wednesday might have changed all that.
The win kept Barton in second place in the Jayhawk West at 4-1 and 16-3 overall. Hutch fell to 1-3 in the West and 14-4 overall.
The Cougars played without three players due to suspensions from the previous contest with Seward. Among that trio of missing players was the Cougars’ all everything Ahmad Walker. The 6-4 sophomore guard leads Barton in scoring (19.2), rebounding (6.9), assists (5.8), and steals (2.0).
But, as the old saying goes, ‘next man up’.
“I think it showed us and the player that hard work goes a long ways,” Coach Fletchall said. “We had guys who have been working hard see some fruits of their labor tonight.”
Chief among them were Tyrone Acuff and Christian Smith. Acuff, averaging 10.4 points per game, scored a career high 28 on 9-fo-12 shooting from the field and 8-of-11 from the free throw line. The 6-5 Detroit freshman added seven rebounds as well.
Smith, a sophomore from Bishop Carroll High School, also posted a career-high with 20 points. The 6-2 guard earned the start in place of Walker and promptly hit 4-of-5 3-pointers and handed out three assists.
“We told them ‘next man up’,” Coach Fletchall said. “That was big for us. It was the end of a tough stretch of games and we earned a big win short-handed. I’m proud of this bunch.”
Guards Jalin Barnes and Khalil Gracey both put up their second best rebound totals of the season with seven each and Gracey had a career-high six assists.
That adds up to more than replacing the suspended pieces as the 105 points tied the most scored by Barton this season – minus a pair of JV games. It is also the highest scoring Barton effort in the 105 meetings between the two schools.
The Cougars grabbed control of the game from the onset and never let up on “White Out” night at the Barton Gym. Hutch scored the first points of the game but the first of 14 3-pointers had Barton up 3-2 less than one minute in. The Cougars would not trail again.
Feeding off the large crowd Barton began to pull away late in the first half. Barton led 30-28 with six minutes left in the half when the Cougars hit the accelerator. Barton put up 21 points over those final six minutes to take a 15-point lead to half capped by a buzzer-beating trey from Smith.
The Cougars outscored Hutch 21-6 during that stretch to grab a 51-36 lead. That lead hit 20 early in the second half as Barton never let up. Enoch’s 3-pointer with 15:45 left gave the Cougars a 66-46 lead.
Hutchinson would try to rally those final 15 minutes but could never string any long runs together because Barton’s offense wouldn’t let it happen.
The Blue Dragon gradually whittle away at the lead but couldn’t get it under 10 until just 2:40 left in the game. The closest Hutchinson would get was 99-93 with just 51 seconds left in the game. From there Barton hit 6-of-6 free throws to close out the win.
In all five players found double figures for the Cougars. In addition to the career-high by Acuff and Smith, Barnes continued his hot play. The 6-1 sophomore tossed in 22 points, reaching the 20-point plateau for the third time in five conference games. Barnes is averaging 20.8 per contest in the West and has been in double figures nine straight games.
Enoch scored 17, reaching double figures for the seventh straight time, and Gracey added 11 to hit double digits for the fifth time in the last six games in addition to that career high six assists.
Barton shot 53 percent from the floor, knocked down 14-of-27 3-pointers and committed just 14 turnovers as the offense stayed in high gear averaging nearly 92 points per game in its five West games.
Bashier Ahmad scored 24 to lead five Blue Dragons in double figures. DeShawn Freeman added 19, Akbar Hoffman 15 and Zac Winter 13.
Barton now gets a week off before heading to Colby to take on the Trojans at the Community Building Wednesday. Walker, Tryon Hamby and Eddie Hunt will also miss the Colby game.
The suspensions stem for an altercation between Hamby and Seward’s Kevin Sims. Walker and Hunt, both starters, left the bench late in the blowout Barton win in defense of their teammate and all three received a 2-game suspension from the conference.