The task was a big one indeed. Traveling to face the top ranked team in the nation on its home court. It was a task that proved too tall for the Barton Community College women to accomplish.
The Cougars were rolled by top ranked Hutchinson, 63-40, at the Sports Arena in Hutchinson Wednesday night. The win kept the Blue Dragons unbeaten on the season with a 26-0 overall mark and a 12-0 record in the Jayhawk West. Barton falls to 6-7 in the conference and 16-9 overall.
“You have to give a lot of credit to Hutchinson,” Barton coach Carter Kruger said. “They are a very talented basketball team that plays the game the right way – we just couldn’t get on a roll against them offensively.”
“I thought we defended well, and when we attacked the glass with a purpose we were able to get enough stops. Unfortunately we didn’t hit shots or get to the basket well enough.”
It didn’t take long for the Hutchinson to establish control of the contest, holding the Cougars scoreless for almost five minutes to open the game.
Julia Dixon finally got the Cougars on the board with 15:02 to play in the half after Hutch scored the game’s first nine points. The Blue Dragons scored the next seven as well and had a 16-2 lead with 12 minutes to play.
An 8-0 run later in the half pushed the Blue Dragon lead to 31-11 late in the opening half. Hutch went to halftime with a 37-12 lead.
The lead grew as high as 33 in the second half.
Katrina Roenfeldt led the Cougars with 12 points – the only player to score more than six in the contest. Kilee Harris grabbed eight rebounds off the bench to lead Barton in boards while Indiah Cauley handed out four assists.
Cynthia Petke led three Blue Dragons in double figures with 19. She also grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds. Kalani Purcell ended with 11 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists.
With the big three so to speak – No. 1 Hutch, No. 7 Seward, and Butler – all out of the way, the Cougars can turn focus to their quest for fourth place in the West. With that comes the final home playoff spot.
Barton will get the weekend off before the final three games that will determine that fourth spot. The Cougars will host Colby Wednesday then travel to Pratt the following Saturday. Barton wraps up the season Feb. 25 when Cloud visits the Barton Gym.
Currently the Cougars are tied in the loss column with Pratt. Barton is 6-7 while Pratt is 5-7 but has games with Butler and Hutch left. Cloud is a game back at 4-8 and also has games with Butler and Hutch remaining.
“After our first game with Hutch we were sitting at 1-4 in the league, with three winnable games to get us back in the conference race coming up,” Coach Kruger said. “We are in that same situation, with two weeks left in the regular season and three big, big games coming that will determine our fate entering the Region VI Tournament.
“We need to rest up, refocus, and attack each challenge as it comes.”