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by Alan Hoskins
Kansas City Kansas Community College’s unbeaten men’s basketball season came to an end in Dodge City’s Pizza Hut Classic over the weekend but not before a whale of a Blue Devil comeback.

Trailing Dodge City by 16 points at halftime Friday, the Blue Devils roared from behind to take a 64-63 lead with 7:35 left only to have the Conquistadors pull away for an 82-74 win.

Neosho County made it a double setback Saturday, breaking open a nip-and-tuck first half battle for an 88-67 win.

The losses left KCKCC at 6-2 heading into a home game with Westminster College Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Hitting a torrid 64.3 percent, Dodge City scored the last eight points of the half for a 49-33 lead in a game that was tied six times and had four lead changes in the early going.

However, the Blue Devils limited the Conqs to just one field goal and three points the first 8½ minutes of the second half and went ahead 64-63 at the 7:35 mark.

Dodge City went back in front on a four-point play by Ameer Jackson and then limited the Blue Devils to just two field goals the final seven minutes to improve to 6-1.

C,J, Vallejo led KCKCC with 23 points on 10-of-17 shooting while Tevin Downing just missed a double double with 14 points and nine rebounds.

Roberto Hernandez added eight points and a career high seven assists while Joe Lendway also scored eight points.

KCKCC had a 34-29 edge in rebounding and had a season low eight turnovers but couldn’t overcome Dodge City’s 58.7 percent shooting for the game.

KCKCC trailed Neosho County 35-33 in a furious first half Saturday that had six ties and eight lead changes.

However, the Blue Devils could not keep up with Neosho’s 53.4 percent shooting in a 53-point second half.

Freshman Austin Hall had 19 points, Vallejo 13 and Downing and Hernandez eight each for the Blue Devils, who were 27-of-65 for 41.5 percent.

The Blue Devils were outrebounded 41-29 as Joseph Acull had 21 points and 20 rebounds for the Panthers. Downing led KCKCC with eight.

Alan Hoskins is the sports information director at KCKCC.

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There were smiles around as KCKCC won its final three games in the national volleyball tourney with a squad of front row, from left, Lily Cullers, Lexi Nick, Andrea Aparicio, Janelle Fowler and Kimberly Martinez; second row, assistant coaches Paloma Juarez and Cory Roberts, Carlyn Walsh, Kailee Dudley, Allyssa Lutgen, Blair Russell and Lily Thornberg; third row, Peyton Pender, Cecelia Augustine, Jasdel Gonzalez, Junelie Irizarry, head coach Mary Bruno and assistant Dee Bruno. (KCKCC photo)
There were smiles around as KCKCC won its final three games in the national volleyball tourney with a squad of front row, from left, Lily Cullers, Lexi Nick, Andrea Aparicio, Janelle Fowler and Kimberly Martinez; second row, assistant coaches Paloma Juarez and Cory Roberts, Carlyn Walsh, Kailee Dudley, Allyssa Lutgen, Blair Russell and Lily Thornberg; third row, Peyton Pender, Cecelia Augustine, Jasdel Gonzalez, Junelie Irizarry, head coach Mary Bruno and assistant Dee Bruno. (KCKCC photo)

by Alan Hoskins

If the Kansas City Kansas Community College team couldn’t bring home the NJCAA Division II volleyball championship, the Lady Blue Devils did the next best thing.

Knocked out of the championship round by a 3-0 opening round loss to Glendale, Ariz., the Lady Blue Devils rebounded to win their next three matches to claim consolation championship honors.

“I’m very proud, especially the way we responded after the opening loss,” said KCKCC coach Mary Bruno after a 3-1 win over Iowa Central Saturday in the ninth place game in the tourney played in Phoenix, Ariz.

“It was wonderful to see the kids rewarded for all their hard work,” she said. “After getting upset in the first round, it feels great.”

While coming into the national tourney seeded No. 10, Glendale followed its win over the No. 7 Blue Devils by shocking No. 2 Central Nebraska 3-2 in the quarterfinals and No. 6 Cowley College 3-2 in the semifinals to reach the championship game against No. 1 Parkland.

“Glendale was one of the best teams we’ve played all season and the best in the national,” said Bruno, whose Blue Devils dropped the first set 25-12 and could never quite recover, losing the second set 25-21 and the third 25-22 after leading 21-19. “They came out blazing we were not quite ready for it. We had our chances but just weren’t able to stop them.”

KCKCC breezed past Genesee 25-12, 25-9, 25-11 in the consolation quarterfinals and then ousted Sauk Valley 25-19, 21-25, 26-24, 25-11 in the semifinals.

“The win in the third set was very big; a very emotional battle that went back and forth,” Bruno said.

The Blue Devils jumped to a 2-0 lead over Iowa Central in the consolation finals, winning 25-23, 26-24 before Iowa Central took a 25-18 win. KCKCC then won the fourth set 26-24 behind the play of sophomore co-captain Blair Russell, who had 10 kills in the final game.

“Blair played well; Kailee Dudley came off a sprained ankle and played every match; and Jasdel Gonzalez played the best she’s played all season,” Bruno said. “And we had stalwart performances by Lilly Thornberg and Andrea Aparacio. All in all it was a great team effort.”

Two years ago, the Blue Devils finished sixth in KCKCC’s first national tournament ever and finished the year 32-8. This year they finished 32-10 playing arguably one of the nation’s toughest schedules – eight of the 15 teams in the national tournament including three of the four teams in the championship semifinals along with five Division I powers including No. 1 Iowa Western.

“I’m very happy,” Bruno said. “It proved we could play with the very best.”

Alan Hoskins is the sports information director for KCKCC.

There was a lot of dancing among the younger set as holiday lights were turned on Saturday evening at The Legends Outlets in Kansas City, Kan. (Staff photo)
There was a lot of dancing among the younger set as holiday lights were turned on Saturday evening at The Legends Outlets in Kansas City, Kan. (Staff photo)

A large crowd turned out to watch the holiday lights turned on Saturday night at The Legends Outlets in Kansas City, Kan. (Staff photo)
A large crowd turned out to watch the holiday lights turned on Saturday night at The Legends Outlets in Kansas City, Kan. (Staff photo)

Santa Claus arrived in a car and walked to the stage for tonight's holiday lighting ceremony at The Legends Outlets. (Staff photo)
Santa Claus arrived in a car and walked to the stage for tonight’s holiday lighting ceremony at The Legends Outlets. (Staff photo)

Santa Claus encouraged the crowd to get loud to turn on the lights Saturday at The Legends Outlets. (Staff photo)
Santa Claus encouraged the crowd to get loud to turn on the lights Saturday at The Legends Outlets. (Staff photo)

During an hour and a half before the tree lighting, those attending heard live music performances. (Staff photo)
During an hour and a half before the tree lighting, those attending heard live music performances. (Staff photo)

The holiday lights cast a green glow on the stage during the holiday lighting Saturday at The Legends Outlets.
The holiday lights cast a green glow on the stage during the holiday lighting Saturday at The Legends Outlets.

The 45-foot tree in the center courtyard came alive with synchronized lights Saturday at The Legends Outlets, Kansas City, Kan.
The 45-foot tree in the center courtyard came alive with synchronized lights Saturday at The Legends Outlets, Kansas City, Kan.

The 45-foot tree in the center courtyard came alive with synchronized lights Saturday at The Legends Outlets, Kansas City, Kan.
The 45-foot tree in the center courtyard came alive with synchronized lights Saturday at The Legends Outlets, Kansas City, Kan.

The 45-foot tree in the center courtyard came alive with synchronized lights Saturday at The Legends Outlets, Kansas City, Kan.
The 45-foot tree in the center courtyard came alive with synchronized lights Saturday at The Legends Outlets, Kansas City, Kan.

The crowd was entertained by live music before the holiday tree lighting Saturday at The Legends Outlets. After the tree was lit, Christmas carols were sung. (Staff photo)
The crowd was entertained by live music before the holiday tree lighting Saturday at The Legends Outlets. After the tree was lit, Christmas carols were sung. (Staff photo)

The crowd was entertained by live music before the holiday lighting Saturday at The Legends Outlets. (Staff photo)
The crowd was entertained by live music before the holiday lighting Saturday at The Legends Outlets. (Staff photo)

The crowd was entertained by live music before the holiday lighting Saturday at The Legends Outlets. (Staff photo)
The crowd was entertained by live music before the holiday lighting Saturday at The Legends Outlets. (Staff photo)

The crowd was entertained by live music Saturday before the holiday lighting at The Legends Outlets. (Staff photo)
The crowd was entertained by live music Saturday before the holiday lighting at The Legends Outlets. (Staff photo)

The Grinch was spotted in the background at the holiday lighting Saturday at The Legends Outlets.
The Grinch was spotted in the background at the holiday lighting Saturday at The Legends Outlets.

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