by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC
It took a while for Kansas City Kansas Community College’s Lady Blue Devils to warm up from a lengthy, snowy trip to Hesston Wednesday but once in rhythm it was an avalanche of offense.
Held to just 14 points the first quarter, the Blue Devils exploded for 89 the final three quarters in a 103-57 win. The win snapped a three-game losing streak as the 15th ranked Blue Devils improved to 22-5 and 3-4 in the Jayhawk Conference with three games to go.
They’ll close out the home season with two games – Saturday against Fort Scott at 2 p.m. and next Wednesday against No. 7 Highland at 5:30 p.m. They’ll finish regular season play at No. 6 Johnson County Feb. 25.
The Blue Devils led only 16-13 early in the second quarter at Hesston before breaking the game open with a 14-2 run.
“A very slow start for us tonight and other than a good spurt in the second quarter, we really didn’t wake up until the fourth quarter,” KCKCC coach Joe McKinstry said. “I’m not sure why we were so lethargic but I was pleased with how they finished.”
Sophomore Caroline Hoppock and freshman Jada Mayberry led the Blue Devils, both with career highs. Hoppock had 29 points including five 3-pointers while Mayberry had 19 with a trio of threes.
“Once Caroline hit a couple of shots, I felt her teammates did a good job of finding her open,” McKinstry said. Hoppock had 16 fourth quarter points on 7-of-10 shooting as the Blue Devils had nine assists on 15 field goals.
Aliyah Myers and Brodi Byrd were also in double figures with 11 and 10 points. Destiny Zamudio added nine points, a game high six assists and seven rebounds.
Mercer Roberts led the rebounding with a career high nine and scored six points as did Kamryn Estell. KCKCC controlled the rebounding 51-42 with Byrd contributing seven and Diamond Williams, Tiaira Ernest and Estell five apiece.
KCKCC led 16-13 early in the second quarter before the Blue Devils took charge with a 14-2 run over a span of three minutes. Myers started it with a 3-pointer and Byrd sandwiched a pair of layups around a rebound goal by Estell and Mayberry converted a 3-point play for a 30-15 lead.
Defensively, KCKCC forced 35 turnovers while committing 13 and limited the Larks to 23 field goals in 71 attempts for 32.4 percent.
“When we gave the defensive pressure that we’re capable of giving, we made things very difficult for Hesston to get their offense going and that led to a lot of easy opportunities for us,” McKinstry said.
Offensively, the Blue Devils had 21 assists on 38-of-90 shooting (.422). In addition to Zamudio’s six assists, Earnest had four and Adoreya Williams, Byrd and Estell three each.
The Jayhawk Conference has a new leader as the result of Wednesday’s other action. No. 5 Labette handed previously unbeaten Highland its second straight loss 75-62 at Highland to take undisputed possession of first place with a 6-1 record ahead of No. 6 Johnson County and No. 7 Highland (both 5-2) and KCKCC (3-4). Johnson defeated Fort Scott 86-34 in Wednesday’s other game to set up a pivotal showdown with Labette in Parsons Saturday.