2020 Blue Devils locked into KCKCC men’s basketball lore

Jalen Davis (KCKCC photo)
Calvin Slaughter (KCKCC photo)

by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC

The fact that a national tournament berth was earned but then lost cannot take away from one of Kansas City Kansas Community College’s finest men’s basketball seasons.

The first ever Jayhawk Conference championship and a Plains District title will forever lock the 2019-2020 Blue Devils into KCKCC basketball lore. Off to a 2-8 start, the Blue Devils came storming down the stretch, winning 11 of their last 12 games and a national tournament berth before being shut down by the coronavirus pandemic.

“A phenomenal year,” said Brandon Burgette, the Jayhawk Coach of the Year in his very first season. “Coming back from 5-10 at the semester break and being 13-3 the second half of the year was great. It took a while to jell to a new system but the culture got better, we fell into a pattern, got better every day and the guys got a chance to see what it was like to win. In the end, it was just so disappointing to work all year for a goal that was taken away. We had accomplished so much and were peaking at just the right time going into the national tournament.”

Losing two key sophomores early to ACL injuries, the Blue Devils played the final two thirds of the season with just nine healthy players, winning nine straight games in one stretch in winning the Jayhawk with an 8-2 record and finishing 18-13 overall – all under the leadership of the team’s only two sophomores, co-captains Jalen Davis and Calvin Slaughter.

“They made the big clutch shots, the shots that solidified our year,” Burgette said.

Trailing Johnson County by 13 points with eight minutes left in the Region VI championship game, Slaughter tied the game with a 3-pointer out of the corner and Davis broke a 68-68 tie with an off-balance 3-point shot and free throw for a 4-point lead with 41.7 second left that cemented KCKCC’s 75-68 win.

Earlier, the Blue Devils trailed Highland by 14 points with less than eight minutes left only to have Slaughter beat the shot clock, banking in a go-ahead, game-winning 3-pointer in a 73-69 win that clinched KCKCC’s first Jayhawk championship.

Davis, a 6-4 guard out of Houston, was named to the All-Jayhawk first team. The team’s leading scorer and fourth in the conference (13.9), he was third in the league in 3-point percentage (.397) and ninth nationally in free throw accuracy (851). Davis scored in double figures in 18 of 31 games with six games of 24 or more including highs of 28, 29, 30 and 31.

“When Jalen was good, we were really good,” Burgette said. “Good athlete, great shooter. We counted on him a lot. He’s getting a lot of looks recruiting-wise.”

Slaughter, who had a career high 25 points in the regional final, scored in double figures in 16 of his last 18 games. The Jayhawk leader in 3-point percentage (.404), Slaughter averaged 10.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.2 steals.

“A knock down shooter, Calvin guarded the other team’s best player,” Burgette said. “Hit two of the biggest shots of the season.”

Burgette will have six returnees from this year’s team including two non-players. Cody Dortch of Paragould, Arkansas, who was averaging 7.4 points when he tore his ACL, will return while 6-8 small forward Dante Carroll of Seattle with a load of potential joined the team at the start of the spring semester.

The Jayhawk Defender of the Year and second team All-Jayhawk, Robert Rhodes heads the list of returnees. A 6-7 rim protector and back line defender, Rhodes led the conference in rebounds (9.3) and blocked shots (2.2) while averaging 8.6 points and shooting 58 percent.

“He did whatever it took us to win,” Burgette said.

Deron McDaniel, a 6-0 guard from Kansas City, Missouri, earned All-Jayhawk second team honors as the leader in assists (3.3) and second in scoring (13.6) while starting only three games.

“A great addition off the bench,” Burgette said. “Our best perimeter shooter and best pure scorer. He takes and makes the tough shots”

Jermaine Yarbough, a 6-8 forward from Grandview, averaged 10.2 points and 5.3 rebounds as one of the league’s best sixth men.

“He could have started,” Burgette said. “Some nights he was our best player. He made impact plays that didn’t involve scoring. A big-time athlete; probably our best athlete.”

DeAngelo Bell, a 5-9 guard from Harmon High School, was second in assists (3.1) while averaging 7.3 points in 25 starting assignments.

“His first time actually playing at this level; he was never given a chance before,” Burgette said. “A true point guard who spent an entire year learning and improving. We look forward for him to make a big impact next season.”

Burgette has already begun to augment his 2020-2021 squad. He and assistant Brady Morningstar have commitments from a trio of high school standouts – Ezekiel Lyons, a point guard from Parsons; 6-6 Cordell Simms of Sedalia; and 6-6 Shayon Jaanloo of Putnam City, Oklahoma. Considering Burgette didn’t get his first recruit until after being hired last June, it’s a great start.

Virus ends a most promising KCKCC baseball season

Sophomores may be granted an extra year of eligibility

Head coach Matt Goldbeck, third from left, and assistants, from left, Dean Long, Bill Sharp and Pedro Leon had the 2020 KCKCC baseball season off to a 14-6 start including a 3-1 record against national ranked and Jayhawk favorite Cowley College before the season was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic. (KCKCC photo by Alan Hoskins)

by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC

Not all of Kansas City Kansas Community College’s nine sophomores may have played their final baseball game for the Blue Devils.

While the NJCAA has announced no decision, “I believe all of our players will get a chance to get a year of eligibility back,” Blue Devil head coach Matt Goldbeck said. “Several of our players have signed at four-year schools and won’t be back. But for various reasons, another year here might be the best option for some.”

Off to a 14-6 start, the Blue Devils lost two thirds of a promising 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic. With three wins in four games against perennial power Cowley College, KCKCC was 4-2 in the conference and 9-1 at home.

“We obviously realize the severity of the situation and understand the decision to end the season,” said Goldbeck, who again was aided by assistant coaches Bill Sharp, Dean Long and Pedro Leon. “Nevertheless, it still is devastating to lose the season. They’ll never get the season back, the hard work that started in the fall, going through our fall struggles. I think we lost 13 straight games, which goes to show how the hard work during the fall and winter paid off.

“We had some question marks but were starting to get some answers and looked forward to seeing them play out – a special group of players who worked hard and loved playing for each other. Unfortunately, they will not get to see where their hard work and commitment would have taken them.”

Graduation will take at least a half-dozen full-time starters and the No. 1 pitcher. The sophomores with Goldbeck’s comments:

Griffin Everitt, Lincoln, Nebraska – Two-year starting catcher, led Blue Devils in hitting (.484), hits (30), home runs (6), extra base hits (12) and slugging (.887) and second in RBI (26), Signed with University of Nebraska. “All-America type year,” Goldbeck said. “Great model for our program, worked hard on and off the field, he was really locked in.”

Osvaldo Mendez, Carolina, Puerto Rico – Lefthanded pitching ace with 4-1 record and 2.89 ERA in five starts. Struck out 25, walked eight. Gold Glove winner as a freshman. “Great competitor, always working to get better, wants to be great.” Signed with Alabama A&M.

Seth Kenagy, East Buchanan, Missouri – At .429, one of two Blue Devils to hit .400. Had team highs of 30 hits, three triples and 19 stolen bases in 20 games. “Great improvements and super athletic. His hard work during the off-season really paid off.” Redshirt freshman second baseman, signed with Central Missouri.

Eduardo Acosta, Montverde, Puerto Rico – Batted .361 with 25 RBI and 26 hits at shortstop after starting in centerfield as a freshman. “Very versatile, worked very hard at his craft. Probably our best pure hitter Has great future.” Signed with Lubbock Christian University.

Jose Sosa, Hialeah, Florida – Power-hitting first baseman, led team in RBI with 31. Slugged .653 with 11 extra base hits including five home runs. “A great hitter and a great kid. Could really be counted on; did everything we asked of him.” Signed with Texas Wesleyan University.

Tyler Henry, Gardner – Two-year starting outfielder who hit .299 with three homers and 15 RBI. “What we want Blue Devil baseball to be. Got the most out of his talent. Took extra hitting every day and another great student.” Signed with Pittsburg State University.

Trey Hoover, Maryville, Missouri – Outfielder/designated hitter who shared team lead in home runs with six. Second in slugging (.694), nine of 13 hits went for extra bases. Hit .265. “Put together a really good year, settling in as an outfielder with a real presence on the team.”

Michael Edgar, Lee’s Summit, Missouri – Hit .231 in 13 games as back-up catcher. “Quality back-up catcher to Griffin Everitt. Played hard and bought into KCKCC baseball.”

Josiah Crowley, Bonner Springs – Righthanded pitcher who made three starts among five appearances. Struck out 10, walked 3 in 11 2/3 innings. “Local player who walked on and worked hard to put himself in position to help us on the mound.”

Just three position starters return, outfielders Raymond Paniagua of Blue Springs and Caleb Adams of Lansing and third baseman Palmer Hutchinson of Hays. Paniagua hit .381 with 24 hits with just one error in centerfield; Hutchinson batted .255 with three home runs; and Adams batted .227 in 20 games. Other returnees include Kade Chastain of Frontenac, Missouri, while hit .357 in 11 games; Sam Juarez of Topeka Seaman, .286 in 10 games; and Cole Silbowski of St. Joseph Lafayette. .273 in 12 games.

There’s an abundance of returning pitchers but only two with much starting experience. Gaby Ramos had a 4-0 record on five starters, striking out 17 and walking 10 in 26 innings; Joseph Reyes was 1-0 with a 3.12 ERA.

Busiest relievers were Parker Weddle of Oak Park, Chase Terrell of Bonner Springs and Hunter Cashero of St. James Academy. Weddle had a 3.0 earned run average in seven appearances, Terrell was 1-1 with a 3.21 ERA in eight games; and Cashero 8.38 in eight appearances.

Also returning are Steven Santiago (1-0) of Guayama, Missouri; Tre Simmons (1-0) of Olathe West, Logan Barnard of Lansing and Mathis Mauldin of Grain Valley, neither of whom had a decision; and Tyler Kapraun of Peoria, Illinois, and Nao Fakuda of New Zealand, both 0-1.

Sophomores set standard for future KCKCC softball

Seven sophomores who started virtually every game in last year’s 38-win season were limited to 14 games by the coronavirus pandemic this spring. They were, front row, from left, Alaina Howe, MacKenzie Pinkerton and Hannah Redick; standing, Devin Purcell, Shaylun Grosstephan, Alexis Rymer and Jennica Messer. (KCKCC photo by Alan Hoskins)

by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC

Having a season end just 14 games into the spring was devastating enough but particularly so to a corps of seven Kansas City Kansas Community College sophomores who just a year ago led the Blue Devils to one of the best softball seasons in history.

Their 38 wins are the second most ever at KCKCC and they finished runnerup in the NJCAA Region VI district.

Faced with adverse weather and a demanding non-conference schedule, the Blue Devils were 7-7 this spring before the NJCAA stopped all competition because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“An incredible group of young athletes who have set the standard for all future Blue Devils,” second-year coach Lana Ross said. “I could not be more proud of not only the accomplishments on the field but for the strong women they’ve become.”

The sophomores, with comments from coach Ross:

Alexis Rymer, Piper – Batted .452 with incredible .903 slugging percentage. Led team in RBI (15) and home runs (3); played errorless right field. “A gifted outfielder and power hitter who made one of the biggest transformations I have witnessed. I’m not sure I heard her speak more than 10 words her entire freshman semester and now she’s one of the strongest women I know.”

Devin Purcell, Eudora – A .347 hitter from leadoff spot. Led in runs scored (13) and second in hits (17); had no errors defensively. “Our starting centerfielder from the day she arrived on campus. One of the most amazing players I have coached, not only because of her athleticism and second to none work ethic but because of her ability to keep everyone, including me, smiling and laughing even when it got tough.”

Jennica Messer, McLouth – Hit at a career high .341 clip, rapping out 14 hits including team high five doubles. “Our starting catcher who caught all of our pitchers and became a great hitter we could always count on. I may have been harder on Jennica than anyone but I could see the potential she didn’t know she had. Every time I pushed, she got better.”

Hanna Redick, Shawnee Mission North – A .325 hitter, drove in 11 runs with 13 hits. Made just one error in 55 infield chances. “A quiet young woman who walked into my office in July before her freshman year and asked if she could walk on. It took her less than two weeks to earn a scholarship. Started at shortstop and led off during an incredible freshman season (.368), leading by example on and off the field and maintaining a perfect GPA.”

Shaylun Grosstephan, Girard – Compiled 3-2 pitching record after 15-6 record as freshman. Also played first base, hitting .256. “An amazing and talented pitcher who worked so very hard on her game. One of the smartest players and a true student of the game, Shay is everything a coach dreams of, a great teammate, perfect student in the classroom and incredibly coachable.”

MacKenzie Pinkerton, Chanhassen, Minnesota – Made just one pitching start after pre-season injury this spring. Was 16-12 as freshman with 134 strikeouts while hitting .256. “A Minnesota native who took a chance to start her career with us and boy, are we lucky she did. An incredible pitcher and fierce competitor, she led her team as a freshman in the circle. A teammate you want on your team, she had to fight incredibly hard for this season.”

Alaina Howe, Eudora – Batted ,235 in 14 games at second base after starting every game at third base as a freshman. “A very talented infielder and one of the hardest workers I have known. Not only does she work hard every single day at practice and the weight room, she maintains a high GPA and holds down a job.”

While graduation will take seven starters, the Blue Devils will re-build next season around a pair of freshmen team leaders from Lansing, outfielder Leah Seichepine and pitcher-first baseman Bradi Basler. Seichepine led in hitting with a .462 average and in hits (18) and slugged at a .564 mark.

Basler compiled a 4-4 record on the mound, striking out 59 and walking 20 with a 5.13 earned run average. She also hit .385 with 15 hits, three home runs and seven extra base hits, 14 RBI and a .718 slugging percentage.

Abby Henson of Pleasant Hope, Missouri, who started all 14 games at third base while hitting .293 with 12 hits, also returns along with infielder Madison Pope of McLouth, who hit .333 in nine games, and outfielder Alyssa Seichepine of Lansing, .333 in six games.

Well before the emergence of the coronavirus suspension of games, Ross and assistant Jenn Strohman began recruitment of what they consider a promising class of freshmen.

“We have 10 incoming freshmen of whom I’m very excited,” Ross said. “I think once we can all get back, everyone will be excited to work hard and get better every single day to have the best season in history.”