by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC
Safely over the final non-conference hurdle, focus now turns to the toughest NJCAA Division II conference in the nation for Kansas City Kansas Community College’s women’s basketball team.
The Lady Blue Devils closed out the non-conference season Thursday, boosting their record to 16-4 with an 83-67 win over William Penn junior varsity in Oskaloosa, Iowa.
Region VI play begins Wednesday when the Blue Devils invade Johnson County (16-4), the No. 5 ranked team in Division II and one of three conference teams ranked in the Top 10 nationally.
Unbeaten Highland (20-0) is ranked No. 4 while Labette (16-2) is No. 9 in the current NJCAA poll.
While not ranked in the Top 20, KCKCC is 23rd in votes received. Tipoff at JCCC Wednesday is 5:30 p.m. with a men’s game to follow.
“I’m very happy for this group to be 16-4 at this point in the season,” KCKCC coach Joe McKinstry said. “There is certainly room for improvement in some specific areas but they continue to do what is needed to come out on top. The next 10 games are what’s important. We have to use the experiences we’ve had up to this point, both good and bad, to help us have a high level of success. This is where the fun really starts. I’m excited to see what happens. … I hope these girls are ready.”
The Blue Devils’ forward line of Lillie Moore, Kisi Young and Lizzie Stark again led the way at William Penn, combining for 50 points and 28 rebounds.
Young had her 10th double-double of the season with 16 points and 13 rebounds, Moore led all scorers with 23 points along with eight rebounds and Stark had 11 points and seven rebounds.
Perimeter scoring came from Alix Wilson, the Blue Devils’ lone sophomore, who had three 3-pointers for nine points; Camryn Swanson, who had a pair of treys and eight points; and Gena Ojeda, who had two 3-point goals. Caitlyn Stewart led in assists with six with Wilson and Young adding four each.
KCKCC never trailed, jumping to a 17-10 first quarter lead on the way to a 39-25 halftime lead.
The Blue Devils dominated the rebounding 43-27 but broke even in turnovers (21 each) and shooting percentage.
Thanks to 60.7 percent shooting in the second half, William Penn shot 47.5 percent from the field compared to KCKCC’s .471 accuracy.