by Alan Hoskins
Kansas City Kansas Community College’s basketball teams gave their fans their money’s worth in the opening round of the 11th annual Keith Lindsey Classic Friday.
The Lady Blue Devils looked every bit their national ranking in the second half in a 93-41 win over Ellsworth Community College while the Blue Devil men provided the drama, winning a 76-73 overtime thriller over On Point Hoops Academy that went right down to the final shot not once but twice.
KCKCC led the men’s game by nine points midway through the second half only to have On Point go ahead 55-54 with four minutes to go. Freshman Tevin Downing regained the lead for KCKCC with a 3-pointer with 3:28 left and soph C.J. Vallejo kept the Blue Devils in front 61-56 with a pair of free throws and a field goal. But three straight misses from the foul line opened the door for a pair of On Point 3-point goals by Nick Treleaven and Ty Hawkins, the one by Hawkins a spectacular 35-footer as time expired.
The Blue Devils (4-0) trailed only momentarily in overtime, thanks to the passing of Vallejo, a former Bishop Ward standout. Downing put KCKCC ahead to stay 65-64 with a 3-pointer; Clay Young drilled a baseline jumper and a 3-pointer; and Joe Lendway broke loose for a layup and all four field goals came on assists from Vallejo. However, the lead was never more than three points and it took two Ray Ridley free throws with 10 seconds to clinch it – but only when Deshon Bell’s desperation 3-pointer to tie rimmed out at the horn.
Six Blue Devils scored eight or more points with Lendway leading with a career high 19 points and six rebounds while Downing had his second double double of the season, 11 points and 10 rebounds. Ridley notched 13 points and a game high seven assists; Vallejo had 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists; Young nine points and Austin Hall eight points and five rebounds. Former Blue Devil Delondre Williams had 13 points and 12 rebounds for On Point.
Janai Mitchell scored 12 of KCKCC’s first 17 points as the Lady Blue Devils surged to a 26-9 lead only to have Ellsworth close to 40-28 at halftime behind 48 percent shooting. However, the Blue Devils erased any chance of another Panther comeback by scoring the first 24 points of the second half for a 64-28 lead.
Thirteen Blue Devils scored for the 18th ranked Blue Devils (3-0). Cheyenne North had 14 and Mitchell, Cassidy Harbert and Cierra Gaines 13 each in the well-balanced attack. Erin Anderson led in rebounds with nine while Gaines and North eight each. North also had six assists, Anderson five and Harbert four. KCKCC had 18 steals in the game including four each by Sierra Roberts and Mitchell. – Alan Hoskins is the sports information director for KCKCC
A dream will come true next year for KCK RBI and its executive director, Cle Ross.
Ross said the renovation of the former 3&2 baseball field, 5325 Parallel Parkway, is now on track because of grants that have been awarded this year. Recently, a $186,000 incentive grant was awarded to the project by the Baseball Tomorrow Fund of Major League Baseball, Ross said. KCK RBI’s parent organization, Success Achieved in Future Environments (S.A.F.E.), will receive the grant.
Donations totaling $1.2 million this year mean that the big 3&2 field will be ready for use in May of 2015, and the smaller field at the site will be ready in May of 2016, Ross said.
“Once the ballpark is completed it’s going to change things tremendously,” Ross said. “Now we have a home field.”
He said he expected youth registration in KCK RBI to grow from 900 kids to close to 2,000 kids.
The Kansas City Royals making it to the World Series, by itself, will result in a renewed interest in baseball among the area’s youth, he believes.
“I believe there were a lot of kids that were previously not interested, and now their interest has been sparked,” Ross said. “Previously they were not excited, and now they are excited beyond word.”
Four members of KCK RBI were given tickets to the Royals wild card game, and the last game of the playoff series against the Angels, he said, through MasterCard through the MLB RBI program. Tickets were extremely expensive for people who went to these games, he added.
“It put some young men and young women into a position to see a game they never would have been able to see,” Ross said.
Ross noted that before the Royals went to the World Series, KCK RBI went to its RBI World Series, taking fifth in the nation, in August.
Ross makes sure the youth in KCK RBI know that some local baseball greats grew up playing on the 3&2 field in past years, and he hopes that will create a positive environment for them. Some of the past baseball greats who played at the Kansas City, Kan., 3&2 field included Ray Sadecki, Larry Drew, David Segui, Steve Renko, Neil Allen, Kevin Young and Damian Rolls.
RBI (Reviving Baseball in the Inner City) is a program supported by Major League Baseball, and the Royals have helped KCK RBI through grants and programs previously.
The youth baseball program received a check for $200,000 from the Royals at Kauffman Stadium before Game 3 of the American League Championship Series, Ross said. The Royals also will provide another $100,000, he added.
Also giving $200,000 each to the baseball field project were Freightquote and the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, he said.
The baseball field renovation fund drive is still about $600,000 short of its goal, which is why the smaller field renovation has been scheduled for 2016. Donations are still being accepted toward the project, he added.
For more information about the KCK RBI program, visit its website at www.kckrbi.org/.