BY MIKE MARZOLF
Special to the Tribune
There is no need to panic for the Barton men’s basketball team. The loss at Neosho County over the weekend was no more than that – a road loss to a good conference team.
The Cougars made that very clear Wednesday night when they returned home and easily took care of Garden City. Barton kept sole possession of the Jayhawk Conference lead with an 84-65 win at the Barton Gym.
Barton is now 6-1 in the Jayhawk and 14-4 overall. That is good for a one game lead in the loss column over Neosho. Neosho is 6-2 in the conference after a 91-87 win over Pratt Wednesday.
“It was big for us to come back and get a win after the loss,” Coach Craig Fletchall said. “We have done that after all four losses this year. That says something about this team.”
The rest of the 14-team conference has at least three losses. That includes Pratt (4-3, 11-6) after their loss at Neosho and Hutchinson (5-3, 16-3), which dropped its third straight game with a home loss to Dodge City (4-3, 13-5), 85-79. There are six teams with three losses.
The Cougars can further separate themselves from a large part of the pack in its next three games – all are against that group of teams with three losses and two are at the Barton Gym. The Cougars travel to Dodge City Saturday and are home next week to Colby (5-3, 12-6) and Seward County (4-3, 14-4).
The Cougars wasted little time in establishing control against Garden. Barton scored on its first two possessions and four of its first five as the Cougars took an 8-0 lead. Following another 7-1 run midway through the opening half, the Cougars had established a double-digit lead they would hold until the midway point of the second half.
A pair of Malik Newman free throws with 7:22 to play made it 29-14 to cap that 7-1 run. By half it was a 40-22 Cougar lead.
Garden made a run in the second half. The Broncbusters went on a 17-2 run to cut a 22-point lead to 59-52. The Broncbusters would get no closer.
A 7-0 Barton run would give the Cougars a 76-60 lead with 4:11 to play as Barton pulled away for the big win.
Derek Dorn and Dequandre Dentmond continue to lead the Cougars. Dorn finished with a team-high 19 points and six steals from his point guard spot. Dentmond controlled the inside with 17 points and 14 rebounds. The freshman made 11-of-13 free throws.
Ezekiel Charles added 16 points and five boards. The Cougars dominated the backboards, outrebounding Garden 38-22. Barton gave up just four offensive rebounds the entire night. As a team Barton hit 32-of-39 free throws.
Garden City’s Jabar Ray led all scorers with 23. He was the only Broncbuster in double figures. Josh Fleming, the leading scorer for Garden, was held scoreless by the Cougars.
The loss is the fourth straight for the Broncbusters in the conference. Garden is now 3-5 and 11-8.
The Cougars will get a hot Dodge City team when they travel west Saturday to the Civic Center. Dodge is 3-1 since the break and has won three straight. The Conquistadors last two wins were at Independence and Hutch.
“It’s another big game for us,” Coach Fletchall said. “That will be our sixth road game in nine conference games. We just have to make sure we don’t let our guys get content. It’s a good conference and you are only as good as your last game.”
The road game will indeed be the sixth in the Jayhawk, leaving Barton just five more. After the game at Dodge, Barton will have eight of its remaining 13 Jayhawk games at home.