It’s not the No.1 ranking that is drawing so much attention to Hutchinson Community College right now — it’s the two No. 1 rankings.
Tuesday, both the Blue Dragons’ men’s and women’s basketball teams hold the top spots in the NJCAA Division I polls.
The Hutchinson men (17-0, 3-0 Jayhawk Conference) were back in the top spot for the first time since January 2011 after No. 1 Chipola (Fla.) lost at No. 6 Northwest Florida 80-65 last Wednesday.
The Hutchinson women, also undefeated, are No. 1 again after the release of Wednesday’s poll. The Jayhawk has three teams at the top of the rankings — the Highland women are also ranked No. 1 in NJCAA Division II.
According to the NJCAA, it’s the first time a Division I school has had both men’s and women’s basketball teams ranked No. 1 at the same time.
The NJCAA Tournament, held for the men in Hutchinson, has expanded its field for the first time this season to award at-large bids, so a strong regular season is important for teams should a slip-up occur in the region tournament.
“With the new format, every game is important,” Hutchinson men’s coach Steve Eck said. “But we’ll just focus on what’s going on right now.”
What’s going on right now for the Blue Dragons is Wednesday’s night’s game against Jayhawk West No. 9 Barton (16-2, 3-1). Hutchinson will be without starting point guard D’Von Campbell (11.4 points, 3.8 assists), who is out three to six weeks with a broken finger.
“(Barton) is going to be a tough game without (Campbell), but that’s the cards that we’re dealt,” Eck said.
Eck said Kadeem Allen (16.7 points) and A.J. Spencer (14.5 points) will both play point in Campbell’s absence.
The Hutchinson women, last season’s NJCAA Division I runner-up, are winning by an average of 31.7 points and defeated the only other ranked Division I team in the Jayhawk, No. 10 Garden City, 61-46 on Jan. 7.
“We’re excited both programs are where they are,” Hutchinson coach John Ontjes said. “It’s going to be different with the national tournaments the way the are now so polls will be an important part of the rest of the season.”
Arkansas transfer Chrisstasia Walter leads the Blue Dragons with 13.9 points, 6 assists and 4 steals. Teammate Jamie Patrick averages 13.2 points and leads the Jayhawk in field-goal percentage (.606) and three-point shooting percentage (.534).
“Chrisstasia has done a really good job of running our ball club,” Ontjes said. “She is really good at finding the open teammate and making things happen.”