by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC
Kansas City Kansas Community College’s well-traveled men’s basketball team finally gets to play at home this weekend. Unfortunately, the caliber of competition doesn’t let up.
The Blue Devils fell to 1-3 Tuesday, another late rally falling short in a 76-68 loss to a former long-time Jayhawk Conference rival, Allen County in Iola.
Now it’s another NJCAA DI rival out of the past, Cowley College, in the first round of the annual Blue Devil Classic Friday at 8 p.m. followed Saturday by a 6 p.m. contest with North Central Missouri. Both rivals will come in with 4-1 records.
Down 35-26 at halftime and trailing by as many as 15 points in the second half, the Blue Devils cut their deficit to 70-64 with two minutes to go only to have the Red Devils protect the lead from the free throw line.
“We just have to figure out how to put two halves together,” KCKCC coach Brandon Burgette said. “We’ve not been out of any game, we’ve just got in our own way. Once we figure that out we’ll be fine.”
Four Blue Devils scored in double figures. Freshman Ezekiel Lopes and sophomore Cody Dortch had 14 points each to lead. Lopes’ 14 points are a career high and came on 4-of-7 3-pointers while Dortch was 3-for-7 from distance.
Sophomore Sevon Witt added 12 points and frosh Robert Rhodes 10 on 5-of-8 shooting.
As a team, the Blue Devils were 27-of-62 for 43.5 percent but just 8-of-28 from outside the perimeter for 28.6 per cent.
A 6-7 forward from Park Hill South, Rhodes led the Blue Devils in rebounding with 12 to complete a double-double. However, KCKCC was out-rebounded 43-38.
“Allen did a great job of taking away our post presence and our big guys and dared our shooters to make shots,” Burgette said. “We just didn’t do well as a team in executing or keeping them off the glass.”
Looking ahead to the Lindsey Classic, Burgette said, “Two good teams. It doesn’t get easier. Cowley defeated Kirkwood, the defending national champion, by 37 points while North Central just beat State Fair.
The Keith Lindsey Classic schedule:
Friday – Fort Scott women vs. North Central Missouri, 2 p.m.; Labette men vs. North Central Missouri, 4 p.m.; KCKCC women vs. Southwestern (Iowa), 6 p.m.; KCKCC men vs. Cowley, 8 p.m.
Saturday – Fort Scott women vs. Southwestern, noon; Labette men vs. Cowley, 2 p.m.; KCKCC women vs. North Central Missouri, 4 p.m.; KCKCC men vs. North Central Missouri, 6 p.m.