Hutchinson JUCO women’s basketball keeps undefeated season alive with Region VI title

There’s no better drama than an undefeated season on the line in the waning seconds of a championship game.

And there was no one better than Kiki Smith to have the ball in her hands to decide the Region VI final for the Hutchinson Community College women’s basketball team.

The Topeka native delivered in the clutch, driving the lane and finishing through contact for the game-winning basket in the final seconds of Hutchinson’s dramatic 54-52 win over Butler Community College at Hutchinson Sports Arena on Saturday evening.

The Blue Dragons, the nation’s top-ranked junior college basketball team, improved to 33-0 this season and will likely receive the No. 1 seed in the NJCAA Division I national tournament held in Casper, Wyo. from March 26-April 1.

It was Hutchinson’s eighth region championship since 2009 under head coach John Ontjes. Saturday’s game was a rematch of the 2014 Region VI final that produced the same winner by the same exact score at Hartman Arena in Park City.

A third meeting this season between the two Jayhawk Conference rivals produced a thriller.

Hutchinson opened up a 23-16 lead in the second quarter, but Butler had rallied to surge in front 38-36 by the start of the fourth quarter. When the Grizzlies opened up a four-point lead, Smith scored four straight to tie the game, and when the Blue Dragons led by four with 1:27 remaining, Maycee James scored four straight for Butler to tie the game with 23 seconds left.

That’s when Hutchinson gave the ball to Smith and cleared out. The 5-foot-7 guard drove the lane and, before flipping the ball off the backboard, collided with Butler’s Freddie Wallace to create a half-second moment of hesitation when the whistle blew. But the official deemed it was a blocking foul and the basket counted with 5.6 seconds left.

Smith, who had 13 points, missed the free throw and Butler attacked the length of the floor with James looking for a foul call but not receiving one; her shot of desperation missed the rim as time expired. James, a Goddard graduate, scored nine points with five assists for the Grizzlies (25-8).

Butler’s roster has several Kansas connections in Brittanie Brickhouse (Wichita South), Tiana Winn (Wichita East) Jada Hopson (Derby), Anna Eldridge (Valley Center) and Sariyah Williams (Olathe North). Meanwhile, Hutchinson’s roster features Kansas natives Bree Horyna (Liberal), Madi Denison (Minneola), Brynn McCormick (Cheney).

Hailey Jackson scored a game-high 15 points for Hutchinson, while Monae Duffy added 12 points and eight rebounds. Butler was led by 14 points from Randi Harding, while J’unti Franklin added eight rebounds and four steals and Wallace finished with 11 points and nine rebounds.

Hutchinson native Myles Thompson led the Barton men’s basketball team to the Region VI championship on Saturday night in Hutchinson.
Hutchinson native Myles Thompson led the Barton men’s basketball team to the Region VI championship on Saturday night in Hutchinson.

Barton rolls its way to Region VI men’s title

A dominant season by the Barton Community College men’s basketball team added its latest accomplishment on Saturday, rolling its way to the Region VI championship.

The No. 1-ranked junior college team in the country never trailed in a thorough 74-57 victory over No. 16-ranked Hutchinson Community College at Hutchinson Sports Arena.

It is the first Region VI title since 2001 and fourth overall for Barton, which improved to 32-1 on the season and strengthened its bid for the No. 1 seed in the NJCAA Division I national tournament in Hutchinson from March 24-30.

Half of Hutchinson’s losses this season have come to Barton, as the Blue Dragons (27-6) hope their strength of schedule will earn them an at-large bid during Sunday’s selection show to play one more time on their home floor.

In Saturday’s game, Hutchinson native Myles Thompson was superb in scoring a game-high 24 points, his second-highest output of the season, on 10-of-16 shooting to go along with nine rebounds, six coming on the offensive end.

Barton’s roster has plenty of Kansas flavor, as the team’s starting backcourt are both Lawrence Free State graduates in Mozae Downing-Rivers (nine points, four assists, four steals) and Cooper Jackson (four points, six rebounds, four assists, three steals). Christian Bowen-Webb (Bishop Miege) and Stefan Spray (Great Bend) also have roles off the bench.

Meanwhile, Hutchinson was led by Valentino Simon, who finished with 13 points and a game-high 11 rebounds, and Kamryn Thomas, who also added 13 points.