IOLA -- Fort Scott Community College's men fell to 0-7 on the season with a 65-58 loss to Northern Oklahoma-Tonkawa in the Citizens Bank Classic at Allen County Community College Saturday afternoon.
However, the 'Hounds have been playing tough competition in pre-conference games with the goal of getting ready for the rigors of Jayhawk Conference-Eastern Division play. Consider that the season began two weeks ago and that the Greyhounds were scheduled for a rematch with Redlands at El Reno (Okla.) Monday night . That means that as you read this, FSCC has played eight times in 15 days. And they'll be playing again Wednesday night.
"We're fatigued," Fort Scott head coach Michael Cook said. "We've played a lot of games."
The long-term goal is to secure a first-round home game in the Region VI Tournament and advance to the quarterfinals in Wichita in March. That seems like a lofty goal, especially when a team is winless. But at least during conference play, there will only be two games a week and half of the 18 conference games will be at home. When Missouri State-West Plains visits Wednesday night, that will be just the third home game out of the first nine of the season.
"I told our guys kind of jokingly, 'We haven't lost our goal'," Cook said. "These games will prepare us for when we go to Coffeyville and when we go to Independence and go to Cowley because we're playing tough teams. We're not playing (four-year schools') JVs. We're playing tough teams to get us ready for that situation.
Friday afternoon in their loss to Butler here, the Greyhounds were unable to hold a lead losing at the buzzer. Saturday, the problem was that Fort Scott fell behind early and had to play catch-up. The 'Hounds did eventually get within 2 points with a minute and a half to go but the Mavericks (4-2) scored 7 of the game's final 9 points.
"I love our effort," Cook said. "I think we play hard most of the game but we're not playing a 40-minute game. We've got to learn to finish the game."
After watching Robert Mason produce big in Friday's contest, NOC-Tonkawa was determined not to let him get good looks Saturday. However, freshman Julian Mills stepped up and produced a game-high 19 points.
"Julian stepped up but we have to have everybody play well at the same time," Cook said.
"I think our bench needs to give us a little bit more," he added. "When we make substitutions, we seem to drop off."
A 11-1 run early run saw the Mavs take a 13-6 lead with 12 minutes left in the first half. Fort Scott fought back to get within 27-26 when Alex Barner took a pass from Mills and buried a 3-point shot from the right side with 2:47 left.
Darrell Traylor's 3-point shot with three seconds left extended NOCT's lead to 33-28 at the half. The Mavs also scored 7 of the first 11 of the second half to make it 40-32 with 18 minutes remaining.
But Fort Scott fought back again, getting within 40-38, the first of 6 times in the half the 'Hounds would get that close.
The next time was on Mason's triple from the right wing on another Mills feed that cut the deficit to 49-47 with 7:42 to go. The last was after Mills made a pair of free throws with 1:32 remaining that brought Fort Scott within 58-56.
Marnard Grant hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key for NOCT moments later. Mills drew a foul on a layup with 23 seconds left to get the 'Hounds within 61-58 but missed a chance to make it a 3-point play when he missed the foul shot.
The Mavs made 4 of 6 free throws in the final 20 seconds to seal the verdict.
"We're very close," Cook says. "We're probably one or two good possessions away. I wouldn't trade these guys for anything. They're giving me everything we've got. The shots stop falling because we're tired. And we're traveling."
Mills was Fort Scott's only double-figure scorer as he made 6 of 12 shots from the field. Jeremy Lampkin made 6 of 13 fielders as he led the Mavericks with 14 points. Traylor added 13 for NOCT.
Fort Scott shot 39 percent from the field, making 20 of 52 field-goal attempts while NOCT shot 42 percent on 22 of 52.
The Greyhounds outrebounded the Mavs, 26-24. Gary Floyd and Teance Walton had 4 boards each for the 'Hounds.
Wednesday night's game tips off at 7:30 p.m. at Arnold Arena. Missouri State-West Plains was ranked 10 th in the NJCAA Division I pre-season poll and is 3-0 after beating Northeast Mississippi on the road, 93-81, last Tuesday. This will be the Grizzlies' first game since then.
FORT SCOTT: Mason 1-7 2-2 4, Floyd 2-8 2-2 7, Mills 6-12 6-10 19, Trost 0-1 0-0 0, Walton 3-9 2-3 8, Stephens 3-6 2-2 9, Carter 1-1 0-0 2, Barner 4-8 0-0 9, Hayes 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 20-52 15-20 58.
NORTHERN OKLAHOMA-TONKAWA: Grant 1-3 0-0 3, Traylor 4-10 3-4 6, Walker 1-2 0-0 3, Lampkin 6-13 2-4 14, Whitley 2-5 2-2 6, Godwin 0-1 1-2 1, Thun 1-1 0-0 3, Emerllahu 3-6 3-4 9, Hooks 1-4 2-3 4, McDonald 0-1 0-0 0. TOTALS: 22-52 13-19 65.
Three-point field goals: Fort Scott 3-13 (Mills 1-1, Barner 1-2, Floyd 1-3, Walton 0-2, Stephens 0-2, Mason 0-3), Northern Oklahoma-Tonkawa 8-17 (Moore 3-6, Traylor 2-5, Grant 1-1, Thun 1-1, Walker 1-2, Lampkin 0-1, Emerllahu 0-1).
Halftime: Northern Oklahoma-Tonkawa, 33-28.
Total fouls: Fort Scott 14, Northern Oklahoma-Tonkawa 15. Fouled out: None. Technical fouls: None.
Rebounds: Fort Scott 26 (Floyd 4, Walton 4), Northern Oklahoma-Tonkawa 24 (Traylor 6). Assists: Fort Scott 7 (Walton 3), Northern Oklahoma-Tonkawa 9 (Traylor 3, Lampkin 3). Turnovers: Fort Scott 16, Northern Oklahoma-Tonkawa 15. Steals: Fort Scott 7 (Floyd 3), Northern Oklahoma-Tonkawa 5 (Traylor 2, Lampkin 2). Blocked shots: Fort Scott 1 (Walton), Northern Oklahoma-Tonkawa 1 (Whitley).