Devonte Bandoo scored 23 points to lead the Blue Dragons to a 77-51 win over Independence on Saturday at the Sports Arena. (Allie Schweizer/Blue Dragon Sports Information)
Devonte Bandoo scored 23 points to lead the Blue Dragons to a 77-51 win over Independence on Saturday at the Sports Arena. (Allie Schweizer/Blue Dragon Sports Information)

Hutchinson CC Sports Information

Just four days after one of the worst defensive performances of the season, the No. 11 Hutchinson Community College Men's Basketball team turned in one of its best on Saturday night at the Sports Arena.

The Blue Dragons held Independence 21 points under its scoring average and 26 percent shooting as Hutchinson rallied from Wednesday's loss at Allen with a 77-51 victory over the Pirates on Sophomore Night at the Sports Arena.

Hutchinson improves to 24-5 overall and 20-5 in the Jayhawk Conference. The Blue Dragons are now tied with Barton for second place in the Jayhawk Conference after the Cougars lost to Coffeyville on Saturday. Independence falls to 16-12 and 13-12 in league play.

The Blue Dragons won their 10th game in a row over the Pirates.

Hutch closes out the regular season at 7:30 p.m. on Monday at Dodge City.

The Blue Dragon defense turned up the heat on the Pirates over the final 11 minutes of the first half. Tied at 13-all at the 11:15 mark, Hutch outscored Independence 25-11 over the remainder of the half. Independence missed 15 of its final 18 shots attempts of the half as the Blue Dragons built leads as large as 12 points before taking a 38-24 lead at halftime.

The Dragons held Indy to 8 of 22 shooting in the first half (22.9 percent) and 10 of 34 in the second half (29.4 percent). The Pirates had only three 3-point goals in 14 attempts. For the game, the Blue Dragons held the Pirates to 26.1 percent shooting (18 of 69).

The Blue Dragon sophomore due of Devonte Bandoo and J.J. Rhymes combined for 39 points to lead the Blue Dragons.

Bandoo scored 23 points on 7 of 11 shooting, hitting 3 of 6 from 3-point range and 6 of 6 from the free-throw line. Bandoo also had six rebounds and four assists. He moved up two spots on the Blue Dragon career scoring list to No. 21 with 946 points.

Rhymes had 16 points, hitting 8 of 10 from the foul line. Rhymes moved up two spots to No. 8 on the Blue Dragon career scoring list with 1,179 points.

Sophomore Sal Nuhu had eight points and James Rojas had six points.

The Blue Dragons shot 40 percent for the game (20 of 50), hitting 4 of 12 from 3-point range and season highs of 33 free throws in 45 attempts. The Dragons held a 51-35 rebounding advantage.

DeAnthony McCallum, the Jayhawk Conference's second-leading scorer, had 19 points on 6 of 20 shooting. He was 6 of 6 from the foul line. Jaelin Grant was next for the Pirates with seven points.

The Blue Dragons raced out to an 8-2 lead, but the Pirates countered with an 11-3 run to lead 13-11 with 12:09 to play in the first half. A Bandoo jumper with 11:15 to play tied the game at 13 and the Dragon defensive show began.

Hutch scored 11 unanswered points to turn that two-point deficit into a 22-13 lead after a Curtis Hollis free throw 6:34 to play in the half. The Dragons held Independence scoreless for 7 minutes, 12 seconds and without a field goal for 9 minutes, 38 seconds. The Dragons built a 27-15 lead over that stretch.

A Bandoo 3-pointer and two more Hollis free throws gave Hutch a 16-point lead before McCallum scored with 1 second left to give Hutch a 38-24 lead at halftime.

Independence never got the deficit below 10 points, but kept things interesting through the first 12 minutes of the second half. Leading 56-46, the Blue Dragons broke the game open with a 10-0 run capped by a Tiylar Cotton 3-pointer and Nuhu dunk. Hutch led 66-46 with 6:27 to play.

Indy the lead back down to 15, but a Rhymes' jumper and Bandoo trey pushed it back to 20 at 71-51 with 3;25 to play. That run was extended to 11 straight points and a 76-51 lead after two Anthony Munson free throws with 1:42 to go.

GAME NOTES – The Blue Dragon head coach Steve Eck won his 255th on the Blue Dragon bench and is now five victories from surpassing Charles Sesher for the most coaching wins in Blue Dragon history. … The Dragons are now 46-23 against Independence, 19-5 in Hutchinson. … This was Blue Dragon all-time win No. 1,775. … J.J. Rhymes moved past Samajae Haynes-Jones and Tony Arrington into eighth place on the scoring list. … Devonte Bandoo moved past DeShawn Freeman and Demetrius Alexander into 21st place on the scoring list. … Rheaquone Taylor had a game-high 10 rebounds, the second time he has had 10 or more rebounds in a game. … This was the third time this season Hutch held an opponent to less than 30 percent shooting. … The 2018 Blue Dragons now rank sixth in team history with 167 total blocked shots.