by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC
Kansas City Kansas Community College’s No. 4 ranked Lady Blue Devils survived arguably their worst start in the last four years Saturday.
Trailing by as many as eight points in the second quarter, the Blue Devils used long-range shooting to bolt to a 33-31 halftime lead and then pulled away for a 77-65 win over North Central Missouri (4-3) in the annual Keith Lindsey Classic.
The win boosted the Blue Devils’ record to 7-1 heading into a men’s-women’s doubleheader Wednesday at Metropolitan Community College. The women will tip off at 5 p.m., the men at 7 p.m. in the twin bill on the Penn Valley campus.
The Blue Devils dug themselves a deep hole early with sub-par shooting against a North Central Missouri team that had played No. 1 ranked Johnson County to an 80-72 decision early in the season.
The Blue Devils managed only 2 of 17 first-quarter shots (11.8 percent), 1-of-8 three-pointers (.125) and 5-of-10 free throws. Add five turnovers and they were fortunate to trail only 13-9 after a falling behind 9-2.
The Pirates built a 19-11 lead with 7½ minutes left in the first half before KCKCC went long distance to get back into contention.
After a layup by Mercer Roberts, Diamond Williams and Roberts drained back-to-back threes and Tiaira Earnest hit a pair to pull KCKCC into its first of seven ties 25-25. Two Jada Mayberry layups gave KCKCC its first lead 33-31 at halftime and set up a decisive third quarter.
Camryn Estell, who had 11 points on 5-of-shooting in the period, put the Blue Devils ahead to stay 37-35 with 8:20 left. Roberts added six points and Earnest five in a quarter in which KCKCC was 10-of-18 (55.6 percent) and had a 58-47 lead they would not surrender.
“Last night, we had an 11-point lead going into the fourth quarter and needed a shot to win at the horn,” KCKCC coach Joe McKinstry said. “Tonight I challenged them not to put themselves in position to do that again; that we did not need a miracle and they did that just great. As far as getting a lead and holding it, I thought this was our most complete game of the year.”
Estell led KCKCC with her third straight double-double and the fourth of the season, scoring 22 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Earnest, who was 3-of-5 from 3-point, chipped in with 15 points and Roberts added 11 points, six rebounds and three assists. KCKCC had 21 assists on 29 field goals led by Adoreya Williams with a career-high seven and Brodi Byrd five.
“I thought Mercer really gave us a boost in the third quarter and did a great job,” McKinstry said. “We were severely outsized with only Kamryn and Mercer able to compete with their length and size. Kamryn is capable of being an absolute force. Tiaira Earnest also gave us a big boost in the second half and while Adoreya Williams didn’t shoot well, she had six points, five rebounds and seven assists which shows what impact a point guard can have without scoring a lot.”