by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC sports information
No. 6 Johnson County took Round One in the battle for Jayhawk Conference basketball superiority, holding off Kansas City Kansas Community College 73-65 in Overland Park Saturday.
The win in the Jayhawk opener for both teams was the ninth against one loss for the Cavaliers while the Blue Devils (7-6) had a five-game winning streak come to an end. KCKCC now returns for a pair of home games against Hesston Wednesday and Highland Saturday afternoon.
JCCC broke open a tight game midway through the second half by draining three consecutive 3-pointers in a 1:07 span of a minute and seven seconds to open a 54-40 lead and then repulsed a late KCKCC comeback. Twice the Blue Devils got within six points at 65-59 and 67-61 in the final two minutes but missed a chance to get even closer by missing three straight free throws and the Cavaliers protected their lead with six consecutive foul shots in the final 30 seconds.
Poor free throwing proved costly for the Blue Devils, who made only 4-of-13 for 30,8 percent although nothing seemed to fall – 27-of-75 field goal attempts for 36 percent and 7-of-28 from 3-pont (.250). The Cavaliers were .431 from the field, .348 from 3-point.
“They got out to an early lead and we answered back,” KCKCC coach Brandon Burgette said. “But we didn’t do a good job of guarding or building on our momentum from our last game. We weren’t ourselves; we did not play Blue Devil basketball. When we did play good defense, we struggled to convert.”
Deron McDaniel had 19 points and six rebounds and Caleb Jones 16 points and a near double with nine rebounds to lead KCKCC. Trey Bates added seven points and Shaylon Janloo and Robert Rhodes six each. Rhodes also had eight rebounds.
Led by Jaland Whitehead’s 14 rebounds, JCCC won the board battle 45-39. The Blue Devils had just seven turnovers while forcing a dozen.
“In this conference you can’t have off nights and tonight was one of those,” Burgette said. “We have to be more disciplined and tough during the tough times of the year.”
In other action Saturday, No. 15 Fort Scott stunned No. 4 Highland 57-51 while Labette’s game at Hesston was postponed.