Blue Devils can clinch share of first-ever title with home win Saturday
by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC
Kansas City Kansas Community College’s league-leading Blue Devils took a monstrous step towards winning their first Jayhawk Conference championship in history Wednesday.
An 80-60 win at Hesston coupled with Johnson County’s 72-63 loss at Fort Scott vaulted the Blue Devils to a two-game lead in the conference with three games to go and in position to wrap up no worse than a share of the title with a home win over Fort Scott Saturday (4 p.m.).
KCKCC is in first place at 6-1 followed by Fort Scott and JCCC, both 4-3; Highland and Labette, 3-4; and Hesston, 1-6.
In addition to KCKCC’s home game with Fort Scott Saturday, the Blue Devils play host to Highland next Wednesday and then finish at JCCC Feb. 25.
The Blue Devils (14-12) took no chances of giving up first at Hesston, bolting to a 25-7 lead in the first 8½ minutes in stretching their winning streak to seven in a row.
Sophomore Jalen Davis led a quartet of Blue Devils in double figures, knocking down 8-of-11 shots for a game high 24 points.
A trio of freshmen guards were the others in double figures, Deron McDaniel with 15 points and Ezekiel Lopes and DeAngelo Bell with 10 each. Robert Rhodes added eight points, Calvin Slaughter and Jermaine Yarbough six to round out the scoring.
Rhodes led the rebounding with 11 and Slaughter added seven although the Blue Devils were outrebounded 45-36 as Marcus Hill led the Larks with 22.
“A great road win for us,” KCKCC coach Brandon Burgette said. “We were balanced all the way around and guarded hard and made it tough for them with our pressure and depth.”
The Blue Devils forced 21 Hesston turnovers while committing just nine.
The Blue Devils led 6-5 before taking command with a 19-2 run during a six-minute span of a first half in which they hit 20-of-32 shots for a sizzling 62.5 percent.
Davis ignited the decisive run with a pair of 3-pointers and McDaniel added two field goals, Slaughter two free throws, Bell and Rhodes a basket each and Yarbough a slam dunk on an assist from Rhodes to push the Blue Devils in front 25-7.
“Jalen (Davis) was great tonight,” Burgette said. “He played hard and made shots for us. And Deron (McDaniel) was great off the bench.”
KCKCC led 50-26 at halftime and Hesston never got closer than 14 points in the second half although out-scoring the Blue Devils 34-30.
“We faced some adversity and struggles in the second half in being out-scored,” Burgette said. “We have to be better guarding and putting two halves together.”
KCKCC shot just 32.1 percent the second half and 9.1 percent from 3-point.
In addition to KCKCC’s home game with Fort Scott Saturday, Johnson County plays at Labette and Hesston goes to Highland.