Grizzlies outlast Cougars; win final game of 2022 calendar year

Grizzlies outlast Cougars; win final game of 2022 calendar year

Story by Wyatt Ebersole

It was another close, low scoring battle, but coach Kyle Fisher and the Butler Grizzlies Men's Basketball Team picked up a key bounce back win over the Barton Cougars on Monday in the Power Plant. The Grizzlies rebound after back-to-back losses to improve to 11-4 on the year overall and 5-4 in conference play heading into winter break. The Grizzlies leapfrog back into fourth place in the rugged Jayhawk Conference, moving ahead of Garden City and Barton and 1.5 games behind Cloud County. The loss for the Cougars drops them to 9-5 on the year, 4-4 in conference play, and pushes into fifth place in the conference.  

As usual in games for the Grizzlies this season, there was not much scoring going on early in the game as the Grizzlies and Cougars gritted out defensive stops and the teams slowly but surely traded baskets through the first 15 minutes of the game. The Grizzlies would take a four-point lead at the 5:02 mark of the half when Isaac Ondekane found a nice bucket inside that drew a technical foul against a Barton player for flopping. Tahjae Hill then stepped up to the free throw line and calmly sinked the freebie and the Grizzlies led 25-21. However, the Grizzlies would then fall into an offensive drought as they couldn't get any shots nor free throws to fall, and the Cougars took their first lead in over 12 minutes after a three-pointer made the score 26-25 with 1:20 left in the half. The Grizzlies would finally crack their near five-minute scoring drought with 37 seconds left in the first half when Treylon Payne sunk a pair of free throws to put the good guys back on top 27-26 heading into the halftime break.  

The shooting marks in the first half for both teams were abysmal with the Cougars shooting 31% from the field and the Grizzlies not much better at 32%. The difference in the half and ultimately the game was the Grizzlies work at the free-throw line. At the end of the first half the Grizzlies were shooting 10/13 (76.9%) from the charity stripe and the Cougars just a dismal 5-13 (38%).

The Grizzlies came out of the locker room and finally had found some offensive consistency as a pair of Isaiah Williams lay ins and a couple of buckets from Ondekane as well as a pair of free throws for the big man had the Grizzlies on a 10-4 run to start the second half and up 37-30 with 16:07 left to play. After this brief run, the Grizzlies again lost their ways on offense, but they continued to grind out several defensive stops, and they held a 44-37 lead over the Cougars with just 10 minutes left to play. The teams continued to battle it out defensively and the Cougars began to really threaten the longstanding Grizzly advantage at the 6:05 mark when the Cougs brought the game back to within three at 48-45. The Grizzlies pushed their lead back to six after a Williams free throw and a mid-range jumper from Tahjae Hill and the Grizz were up 51-45 with just over four minutes left to play. The Cougars again slashed the Grizzly lead down to three and got the ball back with a chance to pull the game within one or tie it up but would force back-to-back turnovers and Tahjae Hill put in the dagger with a turn-around right-wing jumper to put the Grizzlies up by five with only 22 seconds left. The Grizzlies got another stop to wrap up the game and the Grizzlies took home the win in the final game of the 2022 calendar year 56-49. 

The Grizzlies get a few weeks off for the holiday season and then resume action on Saturday, January 7th on the road in Ark City to tussle with the Cowley Tigers.

NOTES: Grizzly Head Coach Kyle Fisher is 4-1 against Barton in his career, but is now 3-0 against current Barton Head Coach Jeremy Coombs…Fish is also now 5-0 against Coombs in his career between Coombs stints at Neosho and Barton…In this game, the Grizzlies held Barton to season lows in all of the following categories: points (49), shots made (17), 3-pt percentage (15%), 3-ptrs made (3), free throws made (12), free throw percentage (40%), offensive rebounds (7), assists (5)…The Cougars had their second worst marks of the season in field goal percentage (32.1%) and total rebounds (35)…The 56 points the Grizzlies scored in the game is the fewest amount of points scored by the Grizzlies in a win since February 27th, 2013 when they beat Dodge City 56-53