Hutchinson CC Sports Information
LIBERAL – The No. 1-ranked Hutchinson Community College men's basketball team overcame a sluggish first half to open the Jayhawk Conference season with a victory on Saturday at the Green House.
Trailing by as many as 13 points in the first half, the Blue Dragons outscored Seward County by 13 in the second half for a 76-69 victory over the Saints.
The Blue Dragons improve to 5-0 overall and 1-0 in conference play. Saturday was the second game of a four-game road trip for the Blue Dragons. Hutchinson travels to Cloud County for an 8 p.m. conference showdown on Wednesday with the Thunderbirds. Seward County falls to 4-1 and 0-1.
Hutchinson faces its first halftime deficit of the season after shooting only 10 of 30 and committing six turnovers in the first 20 minutes. The Saints had a 29-21 rebounding advantage and with 14 offensive rebounds in the first half, outscored Hutch 16-6 in second-chance points.
Seward County used a 14-4 run in the middle stages of the first half to build a 28-15 after an Isiah Small 3-pointer with 6:18 to play in the half. The Blue Dragons immediately countered with a 12-0 run over the next 4 minutes, 49 seconds to pull within 28-27 after a Josh Creach jumper with 2:29 to go. The Saints didn't wilt and would up scoring the final four points of the half to take a 35-29 lead at halftime.
The Blue Dragons got a combined 32 points from J.J. Rhymes, Devonte Bandoo and Kai Mitchell in the second half as the Blue Dragons shot 51.9 percent (14 of 27) from the field in the final 20 minutes. Seward County shot 38.7 percent (12 of 31) in the second half and the Blue Dragons outscored the Saints 47-34 to take over the game.
Rhymes scored a season-high 21 points with four rebounds to lead the Blue Dragons. He was 9 of 11 from the free-throw line. Bandoo knocked down three 3-point goals and finished with 15 points, six rebounds and three assists. Mitchell had 14 points and seven rebounds. James Rojas came off the bench to finish with 11 points. Tiylar Cotton added eight points with a pair of 3-pointers.
For the game, the Blue Dragons shot 24 of 57 for a season-low 42.1 percent. Hutch was 8 of 17 from 3-point range and 20 of 26 from the free-throw line. The Dragons were out-rebounded for the first time this season 46-37, but committed only 11 turnovers.
Devin Bethely hit three 3-pointers and finished with 21 points with five assists to lead the Saints. Small finished with 12 points and Ke'Sean Davis had 10 points.
Seward County finished the game shooting 35.6 percent (26 of 73), going 8 of 28 from 3-point range and 9 of 9 from the free-throw line. The Saints had 13 turnovers.
Trailing by six points to start the second half, the Blue Dragons immediately wiped that deficit out with a 9-0 run to start the half. The Dragons took their first lead of the game with two Rhymes free throws that gave Hutch a 36-35 lead with 17:20 remaining. Bandoo's transition dunk from a Mitchell steal closed the run and the Dragons lead 38-35 with 16:49 to play.
The next 4 1/2 minutes saw four lead changes and four ties.
Rojas tied the game for the Blue Dragons at 47 with 12:19 remaining. That started a 7-0 Hutch run that was capped off by Cotton 3-pointer which gave the Blue Dragons a 53-47 lead with 10:15 to play.
The Saints made it a one-possession game only one more time at the 8:10 mark when a Davis dunk cut the Hutch lead to 54-51. Cotton answered again for the Blue Dragons with another 3-pointer, then another Bandoo trey gave Hutchinson a 62-55 lead with 6:49 remaining.
The Dragons pushed the lead back to double figures on a Bandoo transition layoff at the 1:16 mark to make it 72-62.