by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC
Depth was a major factor in Kansas City Kansas Community College’s drive to the national championship last season. Based on the Lady Blue Devils’ 95-66 win over Southeast Nebraska Saturday, it will be a big factor again this season.
“The final score doesn’t really reflect how competitive of a game this was,” KCKCC coach Joe McKinstry said. “We had a great first quarter (29-12) but unfortunately didn’t maintain our effort and energy and Southeast was able to make it an 8-point game at halftime (44-36).”
Leading by five points with about three minutes left in the third quarter, McKinstry sent in a quintet of starters Aliyah Myers and Alieyya Jones and non-starters Adoreya Williams, Tiaira Earnest and Diamond Williams, who re-built an 11-point lead (62-51) at the end of the quarter and then stayed on to propel the Blue Devils to a 33-point fourth quarter.
“That group was phenomenal and gave us a boost of energy that we’ve been lacking lately,” McKinstry said. “Obviously three of them don’t start and Jones has been a part-time starter so that speaks to the depth of this group. I think what made it even better while those five were playing so well, our entire bench was really involved and cheering them on the whole time.”
Non-starters combined for 43 points; eight Blue Devils scored seven or more points, nine had rebounds, eight had steals and seven had assists as they shot 49.2 percent (32-of-65) from the field and 37 percent from 3-point. The 95 points matched a season high accomplished two other times.
A 5-7 freshman from Derby, Myers led with a standout all-around performance – game-highs of 19 points, five assists, five steals and seven rebounds.
Williams scored a career high 17 points, Brodi Byrd had four 3-pointers and 16 points and Earnest 11 points and five rebounds. Jones and Mercer Roberts chipped in with eight points and Kamryn Estell and Anija Frazier seven each. Rebounding-wise, Estell and Myers had seven each; Diamond Williams and Earnest five apiece.
The win boosted the No. 4 ranked Blue Devils’ record to 12-1 heading into the two final games before the holiday break. Both are on the road, at Southwestern in Creston, Iowa, Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. and Sunday against Illinois Central at 11 a.m. in the St. Louis Classic.
“This group really has a lot of the pieces needed to compete for a conference championship,” McKinstry said. “If we can be a little more consistent in some areas, it could make January and February a lot of fun.”