by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC
If Kansas City Kansas Community College’s young Lady Blue Devils thought all they needed was a new found No. 11 national ranking to win basketball games, they were badly mistaken.
Trailing by 15 points with seven minutes left, North Central Missouri roared from behind for a 79-76 win decided by three free throws with three-tenths of a second remaining.
KCKCC tied the game on a rebound and clutch 12-foot jump shot by Kisi Young with 3.9 seconds left and it looked like the two teams were headed for overtime when Pirate sophomore Samm Jett’s desperation shot from mid-court was far off line. However, Young knocked Jett to the floor in an attempt to block the shot and Jett made all three free throws for the win.
The loss ended a six-game KCKCC winning streak and 12-2 heading into a difficult three-game road swing to close out pre-holiday play while North Central (9-2) won for the eighth straight time.
“Hats off to North Central, they continued to fight and they did everything they needed to do to win,” KCKCC coach Joe McKinstry said. “But the bottom line is we defeated ourselves tonight and our inexperience was front and center. We aren’t ready to be recognized as one of the top teams in the country. This group is talented enough and I believe deserves to be recognized as such. But the bottom line is there’s a lot that comes with that recognition and we showed tonight that we aren’t ready.”
Behind 17-12 early, the Blue Devils reeled off 14 straight points for a 26-17 lead in the second quarter and stayed comfortably ahead until the final seven minutes.
Their lead was still 15 points at 68-53 with 6:54 remaining when the roof fell in. By the time KCKCC scored another field goal, the Pirates had cut their deficit to 69-68 during which time the Blue Devils missed six shots and three of four free throws, turned the ball over twice and were guilty of a costly technical foul.
Lillie Moore’s 3-pointer gave the Blue Devils a temporary 72-68 lead only to have a Whitley Richman layup put the Pirates in front 73-72. Two Young free throws were matched by a Madison Gonseth layup and one of two free throws by Nicole Kost made it 76-74 before Young’s game-tying jump shot.
After converting 8-of-14 third quarter shots, the Blue Devils were just 4-of-18 for 22.2 percent and only 1-of-8 from 3-point in a final quarter that also included four turnovers and eight fouls.
The fouls were particularly damaging as the Pirates made 15-of-17 free throws and 7-of-13 field goals in outscoring the Blue Devils 30-14, far and away KCKCC’s worst quarter of the season.
Young led KCKCC with 21 points and 14 rebounds, her seventh double-double of the season, while Lillie Moore just missed with 16 points and 9 rebounds.
Miya Ford and Tee Martin added nine points each but no other Blue Devil had more than five. Camryn Swanson and Caitlyn Stewart each had five assists and Martin four while Alix Wilson had half of KCKCC’s eight steals.
KCKCC now closes out the pre-holiday season with three road tests – against Wabash Valley in the St. Louis Classic Sunday; at Park University junior varsity Monday; and at Des Moines Area Community College Dec. 14. All three games have 6 p.m. tipoffs.
“Our next challenge is if we can bounce back and keep fighting or if we hang our heads and continue to struggle,” McKinstry said. “Our remaining schedule before break will get the best of us if we sulk about this one any longer than midnight tonight.”