DODGE CITY, Kan. – The Hutchinson Blue Dragons went on a 14-2 run in the final 3:20 against Dodge City to win 72-70 and snatch the conference opener from Dodge City at The Dome.
The Conquistadors (6-1) entered the game after a dominant weekend at the Midland Classic where they won all three games by a combined 53 points, with the closest game being a nine point victory. Dodge City had been powered all season by their three point shooting. They entered the game shooting a shade under 40 percent from outside, while making a total of 75 threes which led the NJCAA.
Hutchinson (6-0) had also been dominating their competition coming into the game, having won their first five games by double digits. Freshman guard Kiki Smith was the catalyst for the Blue Dragons offense, having just been named KJCCC Player of the Week for averaging 21 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists in decisive wins over Neosho County, Labette and Redlands.
The first quarter started with both teams struggling offensively. Hutch missed their first four field goal attempts while committing three turnovers. Sophomore guard Paris Santacaterina scored the Conqs only four points in the first four minutes of the game. Santacaterina started to heat up as the quarter went on though as she scored Dodge City’s first 11 points helping the Conqs to a 21-20 lead after one quarter.
Dodge City extended the lead in the second quarter as Ky Jones and Parris Atkins caught their stride in the frame with the Conqs opening up a 36-31 lead at halftime. Smith was the main reason that Hutchinson was able to keep it close as she finished with 12 points in the half, with no other Blue Dragon cracking four points.
The Blue Dragons fell further behind in the third quarter, at one point trailing by as many as 12 points. Layla-J Cameron started the quarter strong for the Conqs, draining a pair of threes to open the period. Smith and Peyton Mosley helped Hutch cut into the deficit late in the frame though and the visitors were able to enter the final frame trailing 51-47.
It looked like the Conqs would put the game away in the fourth as they kept Hutchinson multiple possessions behind until there were under five minutes to play. Akaysha Muggeridge hit a three with 4:55 remaining that made it 60-58 but Dodge City would go on an 8-0 run soon thereafter to reopen a double digit lead as the score sat at 68-58 with 3:20 left in the game.
Hutch immediately fought back after a timeout though, with Journey Armstead and Smith hitting back-to-back triples to make it a four point game. The teams then exchanged layups before Arm-stead cut it to one with a three point play, making a free throw after finishing through contact in the paint.
With the score at 70-69 and just over a minute to go in the contest, Dodge City missed a three that would have extended the lead but Hutchinson missed on the other end with 30 seconds remaining. The Conqs then lost track of the shot clock after getting the defensive rebound and rushed a three point attempt on offense, even though Hutch would’ve been forced to foul had Dodge City attempted to dribble out the clock.
This gave the Blue Dragons another chance offensively and Armstead got fouled with 11 seconds left and drilled both free throws to give Hutch their first lead of the second half at 71-70. Ky Jones missed a three for the lead and the Conqs hesitated before fouling which gave Hailey Jackson two free throws with under three seconds left. Jackson split the pair at the line but Santacaterina’s half court heave missed the mark and Hutch stole the win 72-70.
Santacaterina led the Conqs in scoring with 25 points even though she struggled with efficiency throughout the game, making just 10 of 26 field goals. Jones, Atkins and Cameron all finished with double digit points as well with all of Cameron’s 11 points coming in the second half.
Smith scored 25 points for Hutch keeping her hot stretch going while Armstead shook off a rough first half to score 17 points, including five of the final six points for the Blue Dragons. As a team, Hutch overcame 24 turnovers and won the battle on the glass, holding a 40-30 advantage in rebounds.
This was the Conqs first loss at home since February of 2022 when the same Hutch Blue Dragons beat them 76-73. Dodge City went a perfect 15-0 at home during the 2022-2023 campaign.
The Conqs drop to 6-1 with the loss, they will be back in action on Tuesday when the face off against Colby on the road as part of a men’s-women’s doubleheader with the women tipping off at 5:30. The game will be broadcast on Z98 with pregame coverage starting at 5:10.