The Dodge City Conquistadors played one of their best games of the season Saturday night, pushing the No. 4-ranked Hutchinson Blue Dragons to overtime in their Jayhawk West opener at United Wireless Arena.
Although the Conqs ended up on the losing end of the 89-85 decision to the unbeaten Dragons, the home squad did build some needed momentum after coming out flat three days earlier in the first game after the holiday break.
"The kids did everything I asked them," said Dodge City head coach Kyle Campbell. "We did a better job of taking care of the ball in the second half and gave ourselves a chance to win down the stretch.
"We were grinding on defense. Hutch is a great team and we showed some toughness where we got down and fought back. It was just a battle and it was one of those games that you have to squeak out at home, but I can't fault our guys one bit."
The Conqs overcame a 13-point deficit midway in the first half to trail by eight by intermission. Hutchinson was 19-of-31 from the field before intermission to push ahead 37-24 with four minutes left before halftime, but Dodge City closed out the half with a 9-4 run.
The hosts opened up the second half on fire, tying the game at 50-50 less than five minutes after intermission. The two teams traded baskets until Dodge City went on a seven-point run in part to two technical fouls calls on the Dragons on one play. The lead was short-lived as Hutchinson scored the next six points to regain the lead.
Neither team could get more than a four-point lead on the other during the final six minutes of regulation. Hutchinson's Kadeen Allen tied the game at 78-78 with 23 seconds remaining and the Conqs set up a play without calling a timeout. Jacoby Green's attempt just before the buzzer hit the front of the rim to send the game into overtime.
"I think I made a rookie mistake in not calling a timeout in the last 10 seconds," Campbell said. "I could have talked to them about a final shot, but I still thought Jacoby's shot was going in. It's just something I've got to learn."
The Conqs hit the opening basket of the overtime period before Allen made a three-pointer to start a seven-point run to push the Dragons into a two-possession lead throughout the remainder of the overtime period. Hutchinson hit eight of nine free throws in the extra period to seal the victory.
Victor Adams led Dodge City (8-7) with 30 points and nine rebounds. Aaron Tate recorded a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds, while Delvon Rencher also scored 16 points. Adams scored 19 points after intermission, while both Rencher and Tate added 10 after the first half. Green scored 10 of his 13 points in the first half.
Page 2 of 2 - Hutchinson (15-0) closed out the game shooting 34-of-62 from the field and 25-if-29 from the free throw line in the victory. Allen led the Dragons' charge after intermission, scoring 17 of his 19 points in the second half and intermission. A.J. Spencer also scored 19 points apiece in the victory, while Alex Davis scored 14 (12 in the first half) and Rozell Nunn 13.
The Conqs played Barton County in another Jayhawk West showdown Monday night, check Wednesday's edition of The Daily Globe for highlights of that game. Dodge City returns home Wednesday night when they host Colby in their fourth battle in seven days. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m.