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Dragons rally from down 14 to defeat No. 9 Cowley


By Hutchinson CC Sports Information

ARKANSAS CITY, Kan. ( – The No. 15-ranked Hutchinson Community College men’s basketball team completed its biggest comeback of the season and took down No. 9-ranked Cowley in a key Jayhawk Conference road contest on Wednesday night.


Trailing by 14 points with 9:42 to play in the second half, Kobe Smith hit a go-ahead bucket with 1.8 seconds left to carry the Blue Dragons to an 88-86 victory over the Tigers to snap a six-game losing streak to Cowley at Scott Auditorium.

The Blue Dragons improved to 21-3 overall and moved into second place in the Jayhawk Conference with a 16-2 record. The Blue Dragons play host to No. 22 Butler at 4 p.m. on Saturday at the Sports Arena. Cowley dropped to 22-3 and 15-2 in the league.

Hutchinson extended its current winning streak to seven games.

The Blue Dragons’ previous largest comeback win this season was nine points against both North Idaho on November 3 and Butler on January 3.

With Hutchinson leading 46-44 at halftime, Cowley outscored the Blue Dragons 26-10 over the first 10:16 of the second half to lead 70-56 with 9:48 to play. That margin remained 12 with 7:45 remaining.

The Blue Dragons went on a 14-4 run and tied the game at 79 with 2: 50 to play on a Valentino Simon short jumper. Cowley took two more leads after lead. Simon scored again with 38 seconds to play to tie the game at 83. Smith then had a steal and layup with 21 seconds to play for an 85-83 Blue Dragon lead.

Cowley took an 86-85 lead with 7.8 seconds to play on a Jeff Nwankwo 3-pointer. The Dragons immediately pushed the ball up the floor and Smith scored in the paint with 1.8 seconds to play for an 87-86 lead. Kamryn Thomas intercepted the Cowley inbound pass and was fouled with 1.1 seconds left. He hit 1 of 2 free throws and Cowley missed a long 3-point attempt at the buzzer to close out the Blue Dragon victory.

Smith scored a career-high 20 points on 8 of 11 shooting with a career-high-tying seven rebounds and three assists to pace the Blue Dragons.

Simon posted his fourth-straight double-double with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Simon was 9 of 16 from the floor.

Thomas finished with 15 points, including 3 of 4 from 3-point range. Dallas Whitney scored nine points, J.P. Ricks had eight points and six assists. Logan Wagler and Kernan Bundy had six points each.

The Blue Dragons were 34 of 70 from the floor (48.6 percent), hitting 8 of 20 from 3-point range and 12 of 19 from the free-throw line. The Dragons out-rebounded Cowley 46-33 and committed 14 turnovers.

Nwankwo had 33 points, hitting 6 of 9 from 3-point range, to lead the Tigers. Arzhonte Dallas had 16 points and Corey Thomas added 14 points.

Cowley shot 42.7 percent from the floor (32 of 75), hitting 9 of 21 from 3-point range and 13 of 17 from the free-throw line. The Tigers had just seven turnovers.

The Blue Dragons had to rally from eight points down in the first half, trailing 17-9 with 12:56 to play in the period. The Dragons countered with a 12-4 run and tied the game at 21-all on a Thomas fast-break layup and took a 23-21 lead on a Simon bucket with 9:20 remaining in the half.

Hutchinson’s lead grew to six points at 29-23 after a Simon jumper with 7:27 remaining in the half. The Dragons trailed 39-38 with 2:13 to play, but Hutchinson immediately took it back after a Thomas 3-pointer with 1:32 left. Another Thomas 3-pointer upped the lead to 44-39 and took a 46-44 lead at halftime.

Cowley opened the second half on a 16-6 run over the first 6:23 of he period to lead 64-52. Damare Smith scored with 10:56 to play to up the Cowley lead to 68-54.

GAME NOTES – Valentino Simon posted his seventh double-double of the season and 28th of his career. … The Dragons are now 89-45 all-time against Cowley, including 32-25 in Arkansas City. … The Dragons earned all-time win No. 1,915. … Hutchinson is 8-0 in true road games this season. … The Dragons are 2-2 against ranked opponents this season. …