by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC
KCKCC forward Brooklyn Wagler puts up a reverse layup that put the Blue Devils ahead to stay 62-61 in a 67-63 win over Washburn JV Wednesday. Wagler scored 22 of her game high 25 points and added 10 rebounds as the Blue Devils overcame deficits of 10 points. (KCKCC photo by Alan Hoskins)
Coach Joe McKinstry could not resist taking a light-hearted jab at his star forward.
“We’d be all right if No. 10 would play four quarters,” laughed the Kansas City Kansas Community College women’s basketball coach.
However, what he said in the waning moments of the first half of KCKCC’s come-from-behind 67-63 win over Washburn’s JV Wednesday night was far more telling.
“He told me what I needed to hear,” said sophomore Brooklyn Wagler. “He said to forget about it. He said to keep playing. That they were going to need me in the second half. That’s all I needed to hear.”
An all-tournament selection in KCKCC’s march to the national championship last season, Wagler was scoreless from the field (0-for-4) and just 3-of-6 from the free throw line as the Blue Devils trailed 39-32 at half.
Wagler’s second half, however, was a classic. She scored 11 of the Blue Devils first 13 points and 13 of 18 as KCKCC closed the third quarter deficit to 51-50 and set up a furious fourth quarter capped by Wagler’s game-winning field goal with 40.4 seconds remaining. For the game, she did not miss one of her eight second half shots, scored 22 of her game high 25 points and corralled nine of her 11 rebounds in her seventh double-double of the season.
“Before our first game of the new year, I challenged Brooklyn to step up her game,” McKinstry said. “We know what kind of player she is but with Brie (Tauai) being sidelined by injury, I knew we would really need Brooklyn to be at her best. I don’t think there’s any questions as to if she’s answered my challenge. She’s been phenomenal when we’ve really needed it most and that’s what great players do.”
Her help came from Millie Shade, who had 10 points off the bench, and nine points each from the guard duo of Kayla Horn and Valencia Scott, each of whom had key plays down the stretch. Ky’Ana French added six points and six rebounds and Aeriel Holiday five rebounds as KCKCC had a slight 35-34 rebound edge.
The Blue Devils never led until Wagler tied the contest with a 3-point play and Shade’s fast break layup put them ahead 57-55 with 6:20 to go. A rebound shot by Wagler and Horn’s acrobatic layup kept KCKCC in front 61-58 but Washburn went back ahead 61-60 and it took a reverse baseline layup by Wagler with 40.4 seconds left to give KCKCC the lead for good.
“It was a play we worked on today,” said assistant coach Chamissa Anderson. Scott then clinched the win with two free throws with 21.2 second left.
The game might have never been close had not McKinstry switched from a zone to a man-to-man defense in the second half. Washburn built leads of up to 10 points in the first half by making 9-of-14 three-point attempts.
Sydney Paialii gave the Lady Ichabods a 9-3 lead with three in the opening minutes and had four in the half; Madison Vargo came off the bench to drain five treys for the 39-32 halftime lead. However, the Ichabods managed just one more the second half when they shot just 33.3 percent after 53.6 percent the opening two quarters.
Now 12-5 but no longer nationally ranked, the Blue Devils open their home Region VI season Saturday when they play host to Brown Mackie in a 2-4 p.m. doubleheader. It will be Brown Mackie’s last appearance here as the college is dropping basketball after this season.
“We need to be more consistent with our effort and execution moving forward as our schedule is tough from here on out,” McKinstry said. “But no matter the opponents, getting three wins in three days is something to be proud.” Despite being short-handed, the Blue Devils started the week with wins over Southwestern Iowa and Hesston.
At just 5-7, KCKCC guard Kayla Horn soars high for a field goal in the Blue Devils’ come-from-behind 67-63 win over Washburn JV Wednesday. Horn finished with nine points, four rebounds and four assists. (KCKCC photo by Alan Hoskins)