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by Alan Hoskins

Vaulting past Highland into No. 7 in the latest NJCAA Division II rankings. Kansas City Kansas Community College’s surging Lady Blue Devils responded with one of their performances of the season with an 89-39 win over Neosho County Saturday.

The win sets up the longest road swing of the season starting Wednesday at Fort Scott at 6 p.m. Then it’s on to No. 1 Johnson County (21-0) Saturday at 2 p.m. for the Division II game of the year to date and then on to Labette Feb. 4 before returning home against Fort Scott Feb. 7.

The Blue Devils got off to their best start of the conference season against Neosho. By the time the Lady Panthers scored six minutes into the game.

KCKCC had an 18-0 lead and by the eight minute mark it was 25-3 and coach Valerie Stambersky was able to bring in her entire second unit, which expanded the lead to 32-9.

“It was very refreshing to play the way we can and do what we do as well as we did,” Stambersky said. “We really wanted to focus on our pressure defense and transition offense.”

Of which the Blue Devils did well, forcing 28 turnovers with 24 steals and converting several fast break opportunities while shooting 51.6 percent the first half.

The Blue Devils also got 32 points off the bench including 14 by Sierra Roberts, who had three 3-pointers, and 10 points from Rashaun Casey. Eleven Blue Devils had rebounds, 10 scored and 10 had steals in the well balanced effort.

Cierra Gaines led all scorers with 19 points while Cassidy Harbert added 13, Janai Mitchell 10 and Cheyenne North 9. Mitchell and Erin Anderson led rebounding with seven each while Harbert led in assists with five. Harbert and Anderson also had four steals each.

“Janai Mitchell played well and it’s good to see Rashaun Casey come on the last couple of games,” Stambersky said.

Alan Hoskins is the sports information director at KCKCC.

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by Alan Hoskins
As hard as they tried, Kansas City Kansas Community College’s Blue Devils could not bring down Goliath Saturday.

With 7-foot budding superstar Joseph Acuil either swatting away or intimidating just about every Blue Devil inside shot, Neosho County pulled away in the second half for an 82-58 win.

The good thing, however, is the loss doesn’t count against KCKCC in the Jayhawk standings. Because of the use of an ineligible player, the Panthers are banned from post-season play and their games do not count in conference play.

“That’s very unfortunate,” said KCKCC coach Kelley Newton. “Neosho is good, really good, probably the best in the conference. It’s too bad they’re not going to get to show how good they are in the post-season.” Officially, the Panthers are 13-9 but in actuality, they’ve only lost twice.

A native of Melbourne, Australia, who has committed to Baylor, Acuil got in early foul trouble and played just eight minutes in the first half, scoring only two points and grabbing no rebounds. As a result the Blue Devils led by as much as 20-14 midway through the first half before trailing 37-31 at the break.

But the Blue Devils had no answer for Acuil in the second half. That the 7-0 Acuil should throw down three thunderous dunks and block four or five shots and alter countless others should not come as a surprise but the fact he was able to go outside and drain 3-of-5 three-pointers was testimony to the fact he may be the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year next season.

KCKCC was still within five points at 47-42 with 11 minutes left when Acuil hit a 3-pointer and a layup, then added another trey and two more baskets for a 64-48 lead. He would finish with 20 points on 8-of-12 shots and seven rebounds to go along with 10 rebounds from 6-7 Greg Wimberly and 21 points from guard Brett Frantz.

Equally important, the Blue Devils were intimidated into their worst shooting performance of the season, just 27.3 percent on 18-of-66 shots while the Panthers were knocking down 31-of-54 for a sizzling 57.4 percent.

Bishop Ward sophomore C.J. Vallejo had another big night for the Blue Devils, knocking down five 3-pointers including four the first half to finish with a game high 24 points. Austin Hall chipped in with nine points, Roberto Hernandez seven and Ray Ridley six.

KCKCC actually won the rebound battle 43-37 with Joe Lendway leading with six and LeShawn Lewis and Babjide Aina five each.

The Blue Devils now return to Region play with three straight games on the road starting at Fort Scott Wednesday at 8 p.m. They’re also as Johnson County Saturday at 4 p.m. and Labette Feb. 4 before returning home against Fort Scott Feb. 7.

Alan Hoskins is the sports information director at KCKCC.

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The Kansas City T-Bones announced they have acquired infielder Ryan Cavan from Wichita in exchange for utility player T.J. Mittelstaedt.

Cavan, 27, is a 5-foot-11 and 180-pound switch-hitting infielder from Belmont, Calif. He played in 92 games last season for Southern Illinois of the Frontier League, and batted .309 with 103 hits, 16 doubles, 44 RBIs and 14 stolen bases. The San Francisco Giants selected Cavan in the 16th round of the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft out of UC-Santa Barbara. He played five seasons in the Giants system, reaching double-A in 2012.

That season, while at double-A Richmond, Cavan was the 2012 Minor League Baseball Gold Glove Award recipient at second base. Cavan was selected as the best defensive second baseman among all affiliated minor-league teams that year after posting a .994 fielding percentage with only four errors in 684 chances. Although most of his time defensively has been at second, Cavan has played shortstop and third base during his career.

Wichita acquired Cavan, who is a career .277 hitter with 648 hits, 335 RBIs and 373 runs in six professional seasons, in a trade earlier this offseason.

“Ryan Cavan has an impressive resume, and all of my reports on him say that he plays the game hard and he plays the game right,” said T-Bones manager John Massarelli. “As far as T.J., he wanted to be closer to his family in Wichita, and we wish him the best.”

Mittelstaedt reached base in all 51 home games for Kansas City last season, and finished the season with a .268 batting average, 16 home runs and 52 RBIs.

The T-Bones open the 2015 regular season at home on May 22 against Lincoln.

- Story from T-Bones