PARK CITY – Hartman Arena was the stage for the third installment of the Hutchinson Community College-Coffeyville men’s basketball clash.
The highly-anticipated Region 6 Tournament championship matchup did not disappoint the fans. The game featured 16 lead changes, 15 ties and no more than an eight-point lead for either team.
However, it was the Red Ravens who had the final lead as the clock hit zeros. Coffeyville defeated Hutchinson 82-80 and repeated as Region 6 champions, earning an automatic bid to the NJCAA Tournament in Huchinson.
The Red Ravens won two of the three matchups against the Blue Dragons this season, by two points each time.
“Coffeyville was tougher than us tonight,” HutchCC coach Steve Eck said. “We couldn’t score inside very well tonight either, and the whole team was in foul trouble, which really hurts us.” With 34 seconds left in the game, Coffeyville sophomore guard T.J. Washington drove to the lane, making a near-impossible go-ahead lay up, putting the Red Ravens up by a point.
After a Hutchinson timeout, the Blue Dragons turned the ball over, forcing them to foul the Red Ravens. The Blue Dragons’ top scorer, Devonte Bandoo, had to exit the game with his fifth foul and the Coffeyville made one of his two free throws, putting the score at 82-80. Tiylar Cotton’s potential game-winning 3-pointer as time expired was wide-left, giving the Red Ravens their second consecutive regional title.
James Rojas, a freshman forward for the Blue Dragons, had another outstanding game, scoring 14 points at the half, and finishing with 21 on the night. Sophomore Robert Whitfield also dropped in 14 first half points.
The leading scorers for the Blue Dragons, J.J. Rhymes and Devonte Bandoo, didn’t reach double figures till mid second half.
Hutchinson shot 41 percent from the field, while Coffeyville shot an even 50 percent. Washington was the highest scorer for the Red Ravens with 19 points.
Although, the Blue Dragons fall to 28-6, their season might not be over yet. They will have to wait until Monday, to find out if they will get one of the eight at-large bids for the NJCAA National Tournament.
“It’s a great conference. Every night we have to battle, so we’re all waiting for a call,” Rojas said.
The Blue Dragons were in the same situation last year when, of course, they won the national championship.
“I hope we make in,” Eck said. “We made it to the regional championship and played a great team, but you just never know.”