by JON DYKSTRA The Iola Register | December 1, 2016
For 38 minutes, Allen Community College coach Andy Shaw was extremely pleased with how his team performed. It was just the last two minutes that proved too much for the Red Devils to overcome on Wednesday night in a 78-73 loss to undefeated Barton Community College.
"I just told the players after the game that, in my opinion, they were the better team tonight," Shaw said. "In the final two minutes, it was one mistake after another, though. It just snowballed."
During those first 38 minutes everything was going right for the Red Devils. Sophomore marksman Quentin Blaue was absolutely on fire from behind the arc and had 22 points on just 10 shots. Point guard E.J. Garnes was seemingly making every correct play and had nine assists. Even the instant offense off of the Allen bench was shining with sophomores Jah-Kobe Womack and DaRon Mims combining for 33 points.
"(Garnes) was finding guys when they were open," Shaw said. "That is just what he does, we see it everyday in practice, so it isn't a surprise to me when I look at the stat sheet and see nine assists, because I see it everyday and it doesn't faze me anymore. He is our floor general."
All this gave the Red Devils a 71-68 lead with two minutes to go in the game, but in the final two minutes the Red Devils seemed to falter in every area that have made them so successful throughout the game.
After Barton star Anthony Smith converted one-of-two from the charity stripe to cut the lead to two with 1:57 left, Garnes committed only his second turnover of the game as Barton's Malik Toppin came up with the loose ball and scored on the other end to tie the game 71-71 with 1:39 left on the clock.
On the ensuing Red Devil possession, the Red Devils were unable to get Blaue an open look. Blaue had just broke a 68-68 tie moments ago with a contested three and before that, he tied the game at 64 with a fade-away three. He was five-of-six from beyond the arc at that point.
"We were just finding (Blaue) out of our regular offense the entire game, so I just let them go when they tied it up and I thought we'd be able to keep out momentum going on the offensive end," Shaw said.
With the Barton defense focused on Blaue, Womack got a good look at a three-pointer of his own but missed.
Smith was able to get a basket on the other end for Barton with 51 ticks left on the clock to give his team a 73-71 advantage.
After another possession of probing to find an open look for a shooter, Womack settled for a floater from behind the backboard on the baseline. The ball went cleanly over the back corner of the backboard, but hit the front of the rim and bounced out.
The Red Devils were forced to foul with just 20 seconds left and Barton's Jahlil Rawley sank a pair of free throws.
After Mims missed a three-pointer for Allen, Rawley hit another free throw to extend the lead to five.
Allen finally got the ball to Blaue again on the next possession. He missed a three, but Ithello Cross gathered the rebound and put it back to cut the lead to 76-73. Unfortunately for Allen, only 1.7 seconds remained in the game.
The Red Devils quickly fouled, but with under a second left, Malik Rhodes hit both foul shots and provided the final 78-73 margin of victory.
"Give them credit, they stepped up in crunch time and made plays while we faltered," Shaw said.
Allen held a 40-32 halftime lead which was their largest of the game.
"We have to learn from this game and hopefully this one will help us win one down the road," Shaw said.
RED HOT FROM DEEP
Blaue has been sizzling since coming back from Thanksgiving break. He finished with 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting at Butler Community College on Monday and followed that up by going 5-of-7 from three-point range and scoring 22 points on Wednesday.
"He is shooting it with great confidence right now," Shaw said. "He is stepping up and doing what sophomores are expected to do."
The Red Devils who logged the most minutes on Wednesday were Garnes, Womack, Mims, Blaue and Cross.
That lineup has been incredibly successful offensively this season with Blaue getting to be guarded by a post player on many trips down the floor.
"It makes us pretty versatile," Shaw said. "It gets four guys that can score the ball around E.J. I really like it on the offensive end, but we have to fine tune it a bit on the defensive end. It makes us tough to guard though."
Sanders was scoreless in just under 15 minutes of playing time and Hultgren had two points in just under seven minutes of action.
Allen will travel to Cowley Community College on Saturday for their next game.
"I told my guys after the game that there are going to be really good teams in this conference that lose three or four games in a row and you can't pout about it and we have to have short-term memory and get it out of our mind and move on to the next one."