By Sammi Carpenter
The Hutchinson Community College women’s basketball team faced Seward County on Wednesday night, beating the Saints 69-53 at the Sports Arena.
For the first time this season, the Blue Dragons played as a top 10 team in the NJCAA being ranked No. 6 in the nation.
“I think it’s important that we continue to keep climbing in the rankings. The higher we can stay in the rankings, the better opportunity at the end to get an at-large,” coach John Ontjes said, referring to qualifying for the NJCAA Tournament.
The first period of the game scoring was slow on both sides. Freshman Hailey Jackson was first to score for Hutch with a layup after getting an offensive rebound. Hutch kept the lead against Seward until halfway through the first, but quickly regained the lead after free throws from sophomore Akaysha Muggeridge. The first period ended with the Blue Dragons leading 11-9. Sophomore Monae Duffy scored six early points.
With the Blue Dragons leading 33-22 at halftime, Seward climbed back into the game with a 17-2 run. Blue Dragon sophomore point guard Journey Armstead stopped the Saints’ run with back to back 3-pointers, ending the third quarter with the Blue Dragons leading 43-37.
The Blue Dragons built a 10-point lead in the fourth period, Seward could not get within eight points of Hutch.
The Blue Dragons are now 52-50 all-time against Seward County. This season’s 15-0 start is the eighth best start in program history.
“I felt like our kids struggled early with their physicality and as the game progressed we got better,” Ontjes said, “Seward was extremely active defensively tonight which made things really tough for us. They had a great game plan. We stepped up and made some plays late and it was good to see our kids in a tough ball game like that.”
Duffy and Armstead led the Dragons in scoring with 16 points each. Duffy got her third double-double of the season scoring 16 points with 13 rebounds while Armstead got a season-high 16 points.
“We usually have been beating people by 20, and in low-scoring situations like we had early in the game, we just need to take the time and look at each other and focus, we know what we are capable of,” Duffy said, “We aren’t gonna beat everybody by 20 to 30 points. We are gonna have to learn how to execute in tight games like tonight and I think this game helped show that.”
The Blue Dragons are now 15-0 and 9-0 in the Jayhawk Conference. They will travel to Coffeyville on Saturday to play at 2 p.m.