By STEVE CARPENTER - Hutchinson CC Sports Information
The 2021 Jayhawk West champion Hutchinson Community College men's basketball team will open the Region VI Tournament Wednesday with a quarterfinal matchup against the Independence Pirates at 7:30 p.m. at the Sports Arena.
Hutchinson's first postseason game of 2021 will be the 400th game on the Blue Dragon bench for head coach Steve Eck, who is in his 12th season.
Already the program's winningest head coach, Eck is 324-75 at Hutchinson, including a 37-13 record in the postseason. Eck just coached his third Hutchinson team to a conference championship, the 37th in program history.
After receiving an opening-round bye, the Blue Dragons will begin their 70th postseason run on Wednesday. The Blue Dragons are 43-11 in the Region VI Quarterfinal round.
Hutchinson will be in search of its 200th all-time postseason victory on Wednesday.
The Blue Dragons have had a week off to rest after earning the first-round bye following a 78-62 victory last Wednesday against Colby in the Sports Arena. Josh Baker scored a game-high 27 points to lead the Blue Dragons.
Eighth-seeded Independence (13-9) had to survive an opening-round scare on Monday from Seward County at the ICC Fieldhouse. The Pirates eeked out a 63-62 win with a free throw with 0.7 seconds remaining in the game.
It was a Matt Mayers' follow shot with 0.7 seconds to play that lifted the Blue Dragons to a 79-77 win over Independence on February 10 in Independence, the only meeting of the season between the Blue Dragons and Pirates.
The Blue Dragons had to survive 16 Independence 3-pointers to win the game. Mayers had 20 points and Majok Kuath had 19 to pace the Blue Dragons. Tim Dalger had 17 points for the Pirates.
Wednesday's quarterfinal matchup will be the 21st Region VI Tournament meeting between Hutchinson and Independence. The Blue Dragons lead the postseason series 14-6. The last tournament meeting between the Dragons and Pirates came in a quarterfinal matchup at Hartman Arena in Park City. The Blue Dragons won that game 74-59.