Piper shot blocker, rebounder C.J. Harper signs with KCKCC

A two-year starter for Piper coach Steve Wallace, left,, forward C.J. Harper will bring his scoring, rebounding and shot-blocking skills to Kansas City Kansas Community College this fall. (KCKCC photo)

by Alan Hoskins

C.J. Harper, a 6-4 rebounder and shot blocker from Piper High School, has signed a letter of intent to attend Kansas City Kansas Community College this fall.
A two-year starter on a Piper team that finished 15-7 the past season, Harper averaged 6.4 points, 5.0 points and a block a game his senior season. He also was 61 of 107 shots from the field for 57.0 percent. As a junior, Harper helped Piper earn a state tournament berth and finish 17-6.
“One of those kids who has improved every year and I can see that continuing at the college level,” said Piper coach Steve Wallace. “He’s a good athlete, strong with good jumping ability and fast for his size. Playing the post for us, his strengths were his rebounding and shot blocking. He spent a lot of time working on basketball in the summer and it’s really helped him to get better each season.”
“We’re excited about C.J.,” said KCKCC coach Kelley Newton. “He’s got a big body with broad shoulders and surprising athletic ability. He’ll be able to play the post position and defend that positions as well.”
Harper is the third area standout to sign with the Blue Devils for 2014-15. Guard Zach Jackson and forward Joe Lendway of Lansing’s undefeated 5A state championship team have also signed with the Blue Devils.

KCKCC Childcare Center celebrates graduation

The Kansas City Kansas Community College’s Childcare Center celebrated Cinco de Mayo and graduation in one event recently. (KCKCC photo)

by Kelly Rogge
The Kansas City Kansas Community College’s Childcare Center celebrated Cinco de Mayo and graduation in one event, bringing together families, students and the KCKCC community.
The Cinco de Mayo/Pre-K Graduation was May 5 in Upper Jewell. It featured presentations from Irene Caudillo, president and chief executive officer of El Centro Inc. and Eric Martinez, program coordinator for LULAC National Educational Service Centers of Kansas City as well as a processional of the pre-kindergarten class from the childcare center.
“This is not just a fun celebration, but it also has a lot to do with cultural heritage,” said Jonathan Long, dean of student services at KCKCC. “It also is about the graduation of some very talented students.”
Before coming to El Centro, Caudillo worked for the Wyandotte Mental Health Association and the Kansas City, Mo. Health Department. She was also the executive director for Youth Opportunities Unlimited Inc., director of family strengthening for Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas and was director of clinic operations for Swope Health Services. She spoke about the history of Cinco de Mayo and gave some insight into Hispanic culture.
Martinez has been with LULAC since 2012 where he helps to develop partnerships with community leaders and recruits parents for the parent liaison program. He has also worked with the Wyandotte Mental Health Center and Harvest of Hope Leadership Academy.
“The staff and I feel that the event was a success. The speakers provided culturally enriching information that was relatable to everyone in attendance, both children and adults,” said Doris Holleman, director of KCKCC’s Childcare Center. “The Pre-K Graduation Ceremony was also delightful.”
Following Caudillo’s remarks, the graduation portion of the event began with a processional to “Pomp and Circumstance.” Graduates even wore the traditional mortar board hats as they entered. Guests were also treated to a slideshow presentation of the students.
“The children’s personalities and success were acknowledged in a serious, yet fun manner. I would also like to thank all of the families for their support of both the staff and their children,” Holleman said.  “Their support has been evident and well received throughout the children’s educations at the Campus Child Care Center.”
For more information on the KCKCC Childcare Center, call 913-288-7615.


The Kansas City Kansas Community College’s Childcare Center celebrated Cinco de Mayo and graduation in one event. (KCKCC photo)

Early morning win has KCKCC one win from World Series

by Alan Hoskins

Kansas City Kansas Community College is one win away from its first trip to the NJCAA World Series since 1976.

The only unbeaten team left in the double elimination super-regional after a 7-1 win over Cowley County in a game that ended at 2:26 a.m. Monday morning, the Blue Devils (39-20) are in the championship game Tuesday at 5 p.m. at Wichita’s Lawrence Dumont Stadium. A win would send KCKCC to the World Series in Grand Junction, Colo., May 23-31. If a second game is needed, it would start at 8 p.m..

The Blue Devils’ opponent will be decided today when Garden City (38-22) and Johnson County (46-12) square off at 4 p.m. with the winner facing Cowley (38-16) at 7 p.m. for the right to advance to the championship game against KCKCC Tuesday. KCKCC has defeated all three teams in the super-regional, nipping No. 1 seeded JCCC 3-2 in the opener and Garden City 12-8 in the second round.

With a day off, the Blue Devils will have pitching ace Geoffrey Birkemeier (8-4) ready to go with three days rest and southpaw Hunter Phillips (9-6) with two days rest. The game will be streamed on the Jayhawk Conference website live stats at www.kjccc.org.

A gutty pitching performance by sophomore E.J. Merlo carried the Blue Devils to their third straight win in the double elimination tournament. A righthander from Blue Springs, Merlo (6-3) gave up just one run in scattering seven hits, striking out seven and walking four over seven innings while sitting out two lengthy delays, one for rain and one for a Cowley protest.

“He really battled the whole way,” said KCKCC Coach Steve Burleson. “Considering the delays because of the weather and the protest and a high pitch count (154), he really battled. He’s a former wrestler with a wrestler’s mentality of wanting to do his part and he did. He bent but never broke and struck out their cleanup hitter with his last pitch in the seventh.”

The protest came in the fifth inning after KCKCC had already scored one run on a force-out at second on Christian Arnold’s slow ground ball after the Blue Devils had loaded the bases on a Luke Norton single, a throwing error on Tanner Thoibdeau’s sacrifice bunt and an intentional walk to Garrett McKinzie. On a hit and run, Daniel LaMunyon flied to rightfield and the throw back to first doubled up Arnold – but not before Thibodeau had tagged and scored from third base.

That brought out a 30-minute protest from Cowley that the run should not have counted. “The rule speaks clearly,” said Burleson. “It’s something I learned about in about 1985 while umpiring a game and I made the incorrect call.”

An effective use of the bunt figured in KCKCC building a 5-0 lead through the first five innings. Norton led off the game with a walk, took second on a Thibodeau bunt and scored on a McKinzie double to right for a 1-0 lead and the Blue Devils added two more in the fourth. After a double by LaMunyon and single by Tyler Raymond, Alex Thrower’s squeeze bunt scored LaMunyon and Raymond scored on a suicide squeeze bunt by Foerschler. The Blue Devils made it 7-0 in the seventh on LaMunyon’s two-run double following a walk and Arnold’s second single of the game.

Alan Hoskins is the sports information director at KCKCC.