by Alan Hoskins
One turnover, a defensive rebound, missed free throw. Any of the three could have made the difference in Kansas City Kansas Community College’s last second heart-breaking 55-53 home court loss to Highland Saturday.
Leading 53-51 with 55 seconds left, the Blue Devils misfired on a free throw for a 3-point lead and turned the ball over in a 53-53 tie with 10 seconds left before Highland’s Kyle-Michael Rose tipped in a missed shot for a 55-53 lead with 4.4 seconds to go.
KCKCC got a last second shot off to tie but Ray Ridley’s short jumper that was dead on line came up an inch short.
Ahead by as many as seven points to start the second half, the Blue Devils gave up the lead midway through the half and trailed until Joe Lendway’s layup with 55 seconds left pushed them in front 53-51.
Sophomore C.J. Vallejo and freshman Austin Hall were the catalysts in the KCKCC rally. Each had a field goal and a 3-pointer in the comeback with Hall’s trey tying it 51-51 with 3:13 to go.
Both teams missed opportunities to tie over the next two minutes before Lendway put KCKCC in front.
Marquis Yates got the Scotties back even at 53-53 with two free throws with 27 seconds left but KCKCC’s attempt to wait for a last second shot was foiled by Rose’s mid-court steal and then subsequent game-winning tip-in of a Karon Phillips’ missed layup.
Vallejo led all scorers with 21 points including 15 coming on 5-of-9 three-point shots. Hall added nine points and five rebounds, Ridley seven points and five assists and Babjide Aina six points and seven rebounds.
The loss dropped KCKCC to 12-7 overall and 1-3 in the Division II standings heading into a Jayhawk Conference Division I contest at Independence Wednesday at 8 p.m. The Blue Devils return home Saturday afternoon to play host to Neosho County.
Alan Hoskins is the sports information director at KCKCC.