By STEVE CARPENTER - Hutchinson CC Sports Information
An early-season battle for first place in the Jayhawk West will take place at the Sports Arena on Monday night.
Second-place Hutchinson (5-3) takes on No. 22 Dodge City (6-2) at 7:30 p.m. on the home court of the Blue Dragons. The first-place Conquistadors lead the second-place Blue Dragons by one game as the league begins round-robin play within each division on Monday.
Monday's game features two of the best players in the KJCCC.
Hutchinson sophomore forward Matt Mayers comes off a game for the ages in the Blue Dragons' 113-99 loss at No. 23 Cowley last Wednesday. Mayers had career highs of 44 points and 16 rebounds against the Tigers. The 44 points were the fourth most scored by a Blue Dragon player in single-game history. Mayers is also the reigning NJCAA National Player of the Week.
College of Central Florida transfer Walyn Napper is a big reason by the Conquistadors are ranked and battling for a league title. Napper is fifth in the NJCAA at 8.4 assists per game. He is also second in the Jayhawk in scoring at 22.3 points per game. Twice named the league's Player of the Week, Napper has three double-doubles this season.
The loss to Cowley on Wednesday snapped a three-game Blue Dragon winning streak. Hutch had season highs for points (99), field-goal percentage (56.7) and assists (26) against Cowley. Hutch was held without a 3-point goal for the second-straight game and turned the ball over a season-worst 32 times that led to 48 Tigers points. Cowley also hit an opponent single-game record 19 3-pointers. Dodge City has dropped two straight after winning six in a row to start the season. The Conquistadors lost 65-58 to No. 5 Cowley on Saturday. One week ago, Dodge City lost its first game of the season in a 143-104 shootout loss to Cowley in Arkansas City. The Conquistadors gave up 25 3-pointers in the game.
Monday's matchup with Dodge City starts a three-game week for Hutchinson. The Dragons hit the road Wednesday at Northwest Tech at Saturday at Seward County.