by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC
One thing has become apparent about this year’s Kansas City Kansas Community College women’s basketball team – the Blue Devils can’t be counted out.
Last Wednesday, the Blue Devils came from 14 points back to overtake No. 7 ranked Highland 69-56. On Saturday, they overcame another 14-point deficit to take a fourth quarter lead before No. 8 ranked Johnson County (25-4) pulled away for a 73-59 win that was a lot closer than the final score would indicate.
Finishing fourth in the Jayhawk Conference at 5-5, the Blue Devils will take a 24-6 record into a first-round Region VI playoff game with Hesston Friday. The game will tip off at 6 p.m. at KCKCC.
KCKCC had to overcome a miserable start to get back into contention at JCCC. Trailing 13-2 in the first seven minutes, the Blue Devils didn’t get their second field goal until the 1:17 mark in the first quarter and trailed by as many as 14 points midway through the second period and 38-30 at that half.
That all changed in the third quarter thanks to an aggressive KCKCC defense that forced seven turnovers. Aliyah Myers had nine points, Brodi Byrd knocked down a pair of threes and Adoreya Williams’ layup gave the Blue Devils a 49-45 lead with 2:28 left in the period.
KCKCC still led 53-52 early in the fourth period before the long journey back took its toll – just 2-of-12 field goals including all nine misses from 3-point the final eight minutes. The Cavaliers, meanwhile, were 6-of-11 from the field and 7-of-9 from the free throw line.
“We have to stop getting ourselves into a hole,” KCKCC coach Joe McKinstry said. “While it is enjoyable to see them play hard and come back to take a lead, it puts us in a position where we have to play next to perfect basketball for the remainder of the game and that’s hard to do.”
Jada Mayberry came off the bench to lead KCKCC with 14 points including four treys while Myers added 11 points and Kamryn Estell and Adoreya Williams 10 each. The Blue Devils were guilty of just 10 turnovers (JCCC had 13) but couldn’t overcome chilly shooting. They put up 41 attempts from 3-point, made nine for 22 percent, and were 18-of-60 overall for 30 percent.
“I was pleased with our effort, our girls really played hard,” McKinstry said. “But we have to execute better in many areas and we have to be prepared as a group to make shots from the perimeter.”
K.K. Jackson-Morris had 17 points and Krystal Rice 15 for the Cavaliers, who were 26-of-55 from the field for 47.3 percent. JCCC led the rebounding 33-26 with Byrd grabbing six and Estell and Myers five each to lead KCKCC.
JCCC and Highland tied for second place at 7-3 behind champion Labette (9-1) but the Cavaliers lost the flip for the playoff’s second bye and will play host to Fort Scott in Friday’s other first round playoff game. Friday’s winners will play at Labette (23-4) or Highland (21-3) Tuesday, March 3.