Hutchinson CC Sports Information
GREAT BEND – James Rojas came off the bench to score a career-high 22 points and spark the Hutchinson Community College men's basketball team to a key Jayhawk Conference victory on Wednesday at Barton.
The No. 14-ranked Blue Dragons defeated No. 10 Barton 85-72 at the Barton Gym. The Blue Dragons, along with Coffeyville's victory on Wednesday, move into a three-way tie with Barton for first place in the Jayhawk Conference. Hutchinson improves to 22-4 overall, 18-4 in the conference.
The victory also gives Hutchinson the head-to-head tiebreaker over Barton after completing the regular-season series sweep of the Cougars.
Rojas provided a huge spark for the Blue Dragons, scoring 15 of Hutchinson's first 23 points of the game. His transition dunk from a Rob Whitfield steal with 13:32 to play gave the Dragons the lead for good at 13-11. When he nailed a 3-pointer with 9:13 remaining, the Dragons led 23-17.
Hutchinson held Barton to 29.4 percent shooting in the first half and build a 41-34 lead by halftime.
The Blue Dragons broke the game open with an 18-6 run over the first 6 minutes of the second half.
Rojas was 8 of 12 shooting, including a season-high two 3-pointers to finish with 22 points and seven rebounds.
Sophomore Devonte Bandoo had 19 points on 6 of 12 shooting, including 3 of 5 from 3-point range. Bandoo had seven rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Whitfield had 16 points on 7 of 15 shooting with two 3-pointers. Whitfield had a career-high eight rebounds and three assists.
The Blue Dragons shot 30 of 67 for the game (44.8 percent), hitting 9 of 16 from 3-point range and 16 of 23 from the free-throw line. The Dragons were dominant on the boards, out-rebounding Barton 54-37 with 14 offensive rebounds. Kai Mitchell tied a season high with 12 rebounds.
Kawanise Wilkins hit for a game-high 22 points to lead the Cougars. He added 12 rebounds and four assists. Keshon Montague had 16 points.
The Cougars were limited to 35.7 percent (25 of 70), hitting 6 of 29 from 3-point range and 16 of 24 from the foul line.
Each team had early runs – Hutch started with a 7-0 string and Barton countered with an 8-1 run to knot the score at 8-all with 15:15 to play. Tied at 11, Rojas' dunk ignited an initial 9-4 run. The run increased to 12-6 when Rojas' 3-pointer gave the Dragons a 23-17 lead with 9:13 to play and Barton was playing uphill the rest of the night.
A Bandoo 3-pointer boosted the Dragons to a 30-22 lead with 6:27 to play in the half. Then leading 34-28, Bandoo hit another 3-pointer at the 2:33 mark to give Hutch a 37-28 lead. The Cougars scored the final points of the half on a Montague basket, which cut the Dragon lead to 41-34.
Hutchinson scored the first eight points of the second half. When Sal Nuhu hit a pair of free throws at the 17:48 mark, the lead ballooned to 15 at 49-34.
Barton made several runs, but the Dragons continued to find answers.
Leading 50-38, Rhymes scored inside from Whitfield assist with 16:05 left. That sparks a 9-2 Hutch run that was capped by Whitfield's putback with 14:01 to play to rebuild a 59-40.
With Hutch up 63-50, Cotton knocked down a 3 from the left wing for a 16-point lead with 8:28 to play. With Hutch leading 68-56, Cotton answered again with a 3-pointer to boost the Dragon lead back to 15 with 5:10 to go.
Rojas buried his second 3-pointer of the game for a 78-58 Dragon lead with 3:01 left. Barton went on a 9-2 run to trim the lead to 13. Whitfield had the final answer for Hutchinson with a 3-pointer at the 1:13 mark for an 83-67 lead.
The Blue Dragons play host to Cowley at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday for Pink-Out Night at the Sports Arena.
GAME NOTES – The Blue Dragons defeated Barton for the sixth straight time and are now 85-26 all time, including 34-15 in Great Bend. … J.J. Rhymes moved into 12th place on the Blue Dragon career scoring list with 1,113 points, moving past William Davis (1986-88).