STEVE CARPENTER - Hutchinson CC Sports Information
Already the program's career coaching wins' leader, Hutchinson Community College men's basketball head coach Steve Eck reached milestone win No. 300 with the Blue Dragons on Monday night.
Majok Kuath had his third 20-plus-point game in the last four and the Blue Dragons had to hold on late to defeat Northwest Kansas Tech 88-79 at the Hutchinson Sports Arena to open play against Jayhawk West teams.
Eck becomes the sixth coach in Jayhawk Conference history to win 300 games with the same program. He joins Coffeyville's Jay Herkelman, Barton's Craig Fletchall, Johnson County's Mike Jeffers, Butler's Randy Smithson and Allen's Neil Crane in that exclusive club. Counting every level Eck has coached at in his 40-year coaching career, Eck won his 950th game on Monday night.
Eck is now 300-63 in his 11th season at Hutchinson.
The Blue Dragons earned a key Jayhawk West victory and improved to 14-3 overall and 5-3 in the Jayhawk West. Northwest Tech dropped its eighth game in a row and slipped to 2-13 and 0-8 in the league.
Hutchinson led 38-32 at halftime, but Northwest Tech started the second half on a 11-3 run to take a 43-41 lead on Reece Warren's 3-pointer with 15:59 to play in the second period. Saquan Singleton immediately answered with a dunk to tie the game at 43 and spark a 24-1 Hutchinson run. D.J. Mitchell's 3-pointer with 8:47 remaining capped the run and Hutchinson led 65-44.
A Kuath dunk with 7:45 remaining gave Hutch a 68-46 lead. Over the next 5 minutes, Northwest Tech outscored the Blue Dragons 23-8 and pulled within 76-69 after a Joshua Robinson layup with 2:50 to play. Tech got within seven points twice more, but the Blue Dragons fended off the Mavericks to preserve the victory.
Kuath was a perfect 9 of 9 shooting to finish with a game-high 28 points in leading the Blue Dragons. He was also 10 of 13 from the free-throw line. Kuath added seven rebounds and a career-high six assists.
Sophomore D.J. Mitchell came off the bench to score 19 points, going 8 of 8 from the free-throw line.
Freshman Jaden Okon had a career high with 15 points on 6 of 8 shooting with seven rebounds in a season-high 32 minutes. Singleton had 11 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals.
The Blue Dragons were 29 of 59 shooting (49.2 percent), but struggled from 3-point range for a second-straight game. Going 0 for 7 from 3-point range in the first 20 minutes, the Dragons finished 3 of 14 from 3-point range. The Dragons were 27 of 33 from the foul line. Hutch had a 36-30 rebounding advantage.
The Mavericks shot 46.7 percent on Monday night (28 of 60), going 9 of 24 from 3-point range and 14 of 21 from the foul line. The Mavericks had 20 turnovers.
Bryan Phillips Jr. led Tech with 19 points. CJ Rosser had 18 points, including four 3-pointers and Robinson added 11.
Hutchinson had an early 16-9 lead after a Tyler Brown layup with 11:30 to play in the opening half, but the Mavericks wound up tying the game at 20 on a Pierles Brown 3-pointer with 8:15 remaining in the half. The Dragons again raced out to three different seven-point leads in the first half, the third coming on a Mitchell putback with 1:05 to play for a 36-29 lead.
Northwest Tech stayed in the game shooting 46.2 percent (12 of 26) with four 3-pointers in the first half, while the Dragons missed on all seven 3-point attempts and finished 38.2 percent (13 of 34) in the first 20 minutes. The Dragons led 38-32 at halftime.
Starting the second half with a pair of turnovers and 1 of 6 shooting, the Dragons saw Northwest Tech go on an 11-3 run to take a 43-41 lead after Warren's 3-pointer with 15:59 remaining. Singleton's dunk immediately tied the game at 43 and the next 7 minutes belonged to the Blue Dragons.
Hutchinson scored 14 unanswered to build a 55-43 lead after a Tyler Brown 3-pointer with 12:07 left. Ian Hardy snapped that run with a free throw at the 11:10 mark, but the Dragons added another 10 unanswered to complete the 24-1 run Hutchinson run and lead 65-44 after a Mitchell 3-pointer with 8:47 to play.
A 20-7 run helped Tech cut the lead to 72-64 on a Robinson tip-in with 4:07 left. The Mavericks cut the lead to seven three different times, but Hutchinson answered each challenge.
Hutchinson travels to Garden City at 8 p.m. on Wednesday to start a two-game road trip.
GAME NOTES – The Blue Dragons are now 6-0 all-time against Northwest Tech. … This was all-time Blue Dragon win No. 1,820. … This was the second-straight game for the Dragons to force 20 or more turnovers in a game.