by Alan Hoskins
The Blue Devils of Kansas City Kansas Community College gave coach Kelley Newton an early Christmas present Friday night.
Led by near record performances by guard Ray Ridley and forwards C.J. Vallejo and Joe Lendway, the Blue Devils turned in one of their best efforts of the season in an 87-76 victory over Wentworth Military Academy and College.
The win snapped a three-game losing streak and sends the Blue Devils into the holiday break with a 9-4 record. They return Jan. 3 for a Jayhawk Conference twin bill with Brown Mackie, the defending Division II champ.
Ridley had a career high 15 assists, just one short of the Blue Devil record of 16 held by Stan Bradley and is only the second KCKCC player to ever record 15 assists.
The big assist night was made possible by spectacular shooting nights by Vallejo and Lendway, who combined for 68 points and became the first KCKCC duo to score more than 30 points in one game.
A sophomore from Bishop Ward, Vallejo had 37 and was sensational from long range, drilling 9 of 12 three-point attempts and finishing 14-of-18 from the field while Lendway, a freshman from Lansing, was 13-of-18 in a 31-point effort. Both performances were career highs.
The Blue Devils also got a big performance from freshman guard Jeremy Holmes.
Making his first collegiate start, Holmes led in rebounds with nine and scored nine points as the Blue Devils put on a sizzling shooting display, hitting 11-of-21 from three-point (52.4 percent) and 35-of-65 from the field (.538).
Equally important was the KCKCC defense, which gave up eight three-pointers in a 42-42 first half but allowed only two more the second half.
“I was real happy, especially since we played with the four E’s – Effort, Energy, Emotion and Enthusiasm. That’s our identity,” Newton said. “Ray Ridley had an outstanding floor game, got everyone involved and is the engine that makes us go.
“I felt our shot selection was very good. C.J. Vallejo is capable of shooting the ball like that. He works on it every day. And Joe Lendway was outstanding. We’ve been after him to be more aggressive and the last seven games he’s been a concrete pillar as a freshman and got more confidence.”
Alan Hoskins is the sports information director at KCKCC.