BLUE DRAGONS FALL TO SAINTS TO BATTLE OF TOP JAYHAWK WEST TEAMS
The Hutchinson Community College men's basketball team's hold on first place in the Jayhawk West slipped away on Saturday as Seward County rallied from a seven-point second-half deficit to upend the No. 12 Blue Dragons 84-82 at the Sports Arena.
Seward County overtakes the Blue Dragons by one-half game for first place in the Jayhawk West at 7-2. HCC is 6-2 with one game in hand over the Saints. But Seward County owns the head-to-head tie-breaker over Hutchinson with a regular-season sweep of the Blue Dragons.
The Saints defeated Hutchinson in the Sports Arena for the first time since 2005 and for just the fifth time in 46 regular-season games against HCC. All-American Kadeem Allen hit a 3-pointer to give Hutchinson a 71-64 lead with 7:30 to play in the second half. Seward County then scored nine unanswered points to take a 73-71 lead and set off a sequence of five lead changes and five ties over the next 5 minutes.
Seward County (17-8) took the lead for good at 81-80 on a Malcolm Hill-Bey free throw with 2:09 to play. The Saints then had to survive a last-second Allen 3-point attempt that was just off the mark to for the victory.
Allen finished with 22 points to lead the Blue Dragons (20-4), but on 5 of 17 shooting. Allen, HCC's career and single-season free-throw record holder, was 11 of 12 from the free-throw line.
Sophomore Coreantae DeBerry tied a season high with 21 points on 9 of 12 shooting. DeBerry added seven rebounds and four blocked shots.
Freshman Darrick Wood had 15 points, going 8 of 8 from the foul line. Sophomore Nathan Jackson posted his first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
HCC shot 42.2 percent overall (27 of 64), hitting just 2 of 12 from 3-point range. The No. 1 free-throw shooting team in the Jayhawk West was 26 of 31 from the foul line. Hutchinson out-rebounded Seward County 41-36.
The Dragons had 18 turnovers and Seward County took full advantage by outscoring HCC 26-9 in points off turnovers.
Niem Stevenson scored a game-high 28 points and finished with seven rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocked shots to lead Seward County. Secean Johnson had 14 points and Brian Bridgeforth had 12 points with six rebounds.
Seward County hit 31 of 65 shots overall (47.7 percent). The Saints were 2 of 10 from 3-point range and 20 of 26 from the foul line. They had just 11 turnovers in the game.
Hutchinson built a 38-34 halftime lead, but shot just 29.7 percent in the opening 20 minutes.
Leading 12-10 in the first half, the Blue Dragons used a 12-3 run to build a 24-13 lead after two Allen free throws at the 8:29 mark. That cushion grew to 13 points after two Wood free throws bumped the HCC lead to 30-17 with 6:06 to play.
Seward County quickly erased that deficit, scoring 15 unanswered points of a span of 2 minutes, 41 seconds to take a 32-30 lead on Evan Allen's 3-pointer with 3:22 to go in the half.
The Blue Dragons answered finally with a Wood 3-pointer at the 3:05 mark to grab the lead for the remainder of the opening half. Two Wood free throws gave HCC its 38-34 halftime margin.
Saturday's game featured 14 total lead changes and 17 total ties. Several of those occurred over the first 10 minutes of the second half.
Tied at 62-all, an Austin Budke three-point play gave HCC a 65-62 lead, which started a 6-0 Blue Dragon run. A DeBerry free throw with 8:15 to go boosted the HCC advantage to 68-62 with 8:15 to play. Allen then sank his only 3-pointer of the game with 7:30 remaining to give HCC its largest second-half lead at 71-64.
Down the stretch, Seward County hit 6 of 10 shots to HCC's 4 of 11.
Trailing 81-80 at the 2-minute mark, the Blue Dragons missed a golden opportunity to remain the league, but missed two point-blank shots. Seward converted the missed Hutch opportunity into two Hill-Bey free throws and an 83-80 lead with 47 seconds left. Allen pulled HCC within one with two free throws at the 47-second mark. Hill-Bey made 1 of 2 free throws with 24 seconds to play for an 84-82 lead. Allen then just missed a game-winning 3-pointer from the top of the key with 3 seconds to play and Seward County corralled the rebound to secure the victory.
Hutchinson won't have much time to think about the Seward County game. The Blue Dragons travel to Garden City at 7:30 p.m. on Monday in a make-up of last Wednesday's postponed game because of the winter storm. It will be the second of four games in eight days for the Blue Dragons.
GAME NOTES - HCC is now 68-26 all-time vs. Seward County. Kadeem Allen tied Dewayne Dale for fourth place on HCC's career assist list with 267. Seward County sweeps the season series with Hutchinson for the first time since 2005. The Dragons are now 16-2 at home this season and 18-2 when leading at halftime. The Blue Dragons are just 1-4 when being out shot by an opponent and are 14-2 when out-rebounding an opponent. Darrick Wood tied a season high with six assists. This was Kadeem Allen's 11th game of 10 or more free throws.