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Dragons Earn 10th-Straight Victory Over NEO


By Hutchinson CC Sports Information


HUTCHINSON, Kan. – Five players scored in double figures and the Hutchinson Community College men’s basketball team forced 36 turnovers to earn a victory over a nationally ranked opponent this season.

The Blue Dragons raced out to a 13-point lead in the first 5 1/2 minutes and never looked back as Hutchinson defeated No. 23 NEO 102-84 to close out the BSN Sports Tip-Off Classic on Saturday night at the Sports Arena.

Hutchinson improved to 2-0 with wins over North Idaho and NEO in the BSN Classic. The Blue Dragons play host to the Allen Red Devils at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

The Blue Dragons had a balanced offense with Valentino Simon leading five Hutchinson players in double figures with 19 points, four rebounds and three steals. Simon made 6 of 11 shots from the field and was 7 of 10 from the free-throw line.

Dre Weathers had a career-high 17 points on 7 of 10 shooting with a 3-pointer. Weathers had six rebounds and a career-best three assists.

Kamryn Thomas knocked down three 3-pointers and finished with 15 points. J.P. Ricks had 14 points with a pair of 3-pointers. Kernan Bundy hit two 3-pointers and finished with 12 points off the bench. Dallas Whitney had eight points. Landon Wagler also had eight points.

The Blue Dragons shot 47.7 percent from the field (31 of 65), hitting 10 of 25 from 3-point range and a much-improved 30 of 43 from the free-throw line. The Blue Dragon had 25 assists on 31 made baskets. Zoe Holman had a team-high five assists. Five different players had at least three assists.

NEO shot 47.5 percent (28 of 58), hitting 3 of 11 from 3-point range and 25 of 37 from the foul line. The Golden Norse out-rebounded the Blue Dragons 44-31.

Albert Wilson led NEO with 18 points.

The 36 turnovers forced by the Blue Dragons gave them a 39-18 advantage in points off turnovers. The Blue Dragons had 19 steals, which tied for the sixth most in program history. Holman had a game-high five steals.

The Blue Dragon led 5-4 and created some separation with a 12-3 run to lead 17-4 after a Whitney layup with 14:23 to play in the first half. A Ricks’ three-point play with 12:53 to play gave the Dragons a 22-8 lead. NEO answered with an 8-1 run to pull within 23-16 with 10:39 to play in the half.

The Blue Dragons led 32-20 after a Thomas jumper in the paint with 7:49 to go. The Golden Norse trimmed the Dragon lead to five at 37-32 on a Kayden Carter three-point play. The Dragons pushed the lead back to nine twice, but NEO scored the final three points of the half and Hutchinson led 45-39 at halftime.

The Dragons immediate opened a 14-point lead to start the second half. A Ricks’ bucket, two Simon free throws and a Weathers’ dunk gave the Dragons a 55-41 lead with 17:41 to play. NEO answered that with a 10-1 run over the next 2:30 to pull with 56-51.

Hutchinson answered that challenge with a 13-2 run and led 69-53 after two Simon free throws with 12:59 to play.

Leading 73-62, the Blue Dragons put the game away with a 19-3 run over a span of 3 minutes, 8 seconds. Two Thomas free throws with 7:54 left gave the Blue Dragons a 92-65 lead.

Wagler’s 3-point goal with 48 seconds left put the Dragons over the Century mark for the first time this season.

GAME NOTES – The Blue Dragons are closing in on 1,900 all-time men’s basketball wins, now at 1,896. … The Blue Dragons are now 19-8 all-time against NEO. … This was the 235th time in program history to reach 100 points in a game, the 25th in the Tommy DeSalme era.