Blue Dragons survive GC comback

Leading by 17 points with 6:42 remaining in the game, the Hutchinson Community College men's basketball team survived a furious Garden City rally in which the Broncbusters cut the lead to two points with 1:37 remaining, but the 12th-ranked Blue Dragons survived to capture an 82-77 Jayhawk West victory on Wednesday at the Sports Arena.
Despite out-shooting Garden City 48.9-39.0 percent from the floor, the Blue Dragons allowed the Busters to get back into the game with a ton of free possessions. Hutchinson turned the ball over 18 times and gave up a staggering 30 offensive rebounds. HCC (16-2, 2-0 Jayhawk West) offset those numbers by outscoring Garden City 32-10 at the free-throw line.
Hutchinson led 71-54 with 6:42 remaining in the contest. Still leading 75-59, HCC quickly saw its lead dwindle to just six after a Garden City 11-0 run, eight scored on second-chance points. After a Jade Cathey layup, HCC led 75-70- with 2:34 to play.
Freshman Austin Budke hit two free throws with 2:18 left, but Garden City scored five in a row after that and pulled within 77-75 with 1:37 left after a June Johnson layup. Coreante DeBerry and Kadeem Allen then hit four crucial free throws to push the Dragon advantage to back two possessions and HCC was able to close out its ninth-consecutive victory despite not scoring a field goal for the final 4:59 and only hitting four baskets in the final 11 minutes of the game.
Allen finished with a game-high 22 points, seven rebounds and three assists to lead HCC. The sophomore All-American shot 7 of 13 from the field, 2 of 3 from long range and 6 of 9 from the free-throw line.
Freshman DeShawn Freeman finished with 14 points, shooting 7 of 9 from the free-throw line. Freeman added seven rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots.
DeBerry had 13 points, eight rebounds and two blocks. Budke also had 13 points for HCC.
The Blue Dragons shot 48.9 percent from the field (23 of 47), going 4 of 6 from 3-point range and 32 of 40 from the free-throw line. The Dragons were out-rebounded for the fifth time this season, 50-38.
Hutchinson's 82 points scored were the most allowed by Garden City this season.
Cathey led Garden City (14-4, 0-2) with 20 points on 9 of 22 shooting with eight rebounds. Jeremy Wilson added 17 points and eight boards.
The Broncbusters were 32 of 82 shooting (39.0 percent) overall, including 3 of 18 from 3-point range and 10 of 21 from the foul line. Garden City turned the ball over 14 times.
Hutchinson shot 53.6 percent in the first half in building a quick double-digit lead. Leading 10-8, back-to-back 3-pointers from Allen and a three-point play by Freeman quickly stakes HCC to a 19-8 lead with 11:48 to play in the opening half.
With HCC leading 35-25 with 3:38 to play, the Dragons went on a 9-1 run to build a game-high 18-point cushion at 44-26 with 1:25 left after two free throws. HCC didn't close the half out well, though, letting Garden City get some easy baskets in a 7-2 Buster run that closed the Hutchinson lead to 46-33 at halftime.
The Busters scored the first four points of the second half to cut the lead to single digits at 46-37 with 18:17 to play. HCC weathered that storm with an 8-0 run. Tafari Whittingham's free throw with 15:53 to play upped the HCC lead to 54-37.
Garden City continued to make several small advancements that were turned away by the Dragons. Garden City pulled within 11 points at 63-52 with 8:50 to play. That surge was repelled by back-to-back Dragon baskets from Allen and DeBerry to regain a 70-54 lead with 7:42 remaining.
After two DeBerry free throws with 6:10 to play matched HCC's biggest second-half lead at 17, Johnson hit a 3-pointer for Garden City that was countered by an Allen field goal - Hutchinson's last of the game - at the 4:59 mark. HCC led 75-59.
That's where Garden City's offensive rebounding took over during the 11-0 run to pull within 75-70, setting up the frantic final moments.
Hutchinson will travel to Seward County at 8 p.m. on Wednesday in Liberal.
GAME NOTES - HCC head coach Steve Eck won his 125th game at Hutchinson. … The Dragons earned all-time win No. 1,644. … Hutchinson is now 125-46 all-time vs. Garden City, 56-7 at the Sports Arena and 69-9 in all games played in Hutchinson. … Kadeem Allen is now up to 1,085 points for his career. He is 17 points away from moving into the career Top 10. … HCC is 15-0 this season when out-shooting an opponent. … The Dragons are 4-1 when getting out-rebounded. … Garden City cashed in for 23 points on its 30 offensive rebounds. … Garden City outscored HCC 21-17 in points off turnovers and 39-23 in points off the bench. … Austin Budke had his third-straight game scoring in double figures. … Kadeem Allen has his four-game streak of scoring 30 or more points snapped.