Rebounds, defense power KCKCC women to third straight win

by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC

Kansas City Kansas Community College’s young women’s basketball team did something Tuesday that last year’s national champions did not do – defeat Washburn University’s junior varsity at Washburn.

Fueled by a big second quarter, the Lady Blue Devils posted a 71-48 win in Topeka. It was the third straight win for the unbeaten and No. 1 ranked Blue Devils. Last season, the Lady Ichabods handed KCKCC a 76-74 setback, one of only four KCKCC losses in 2018-19.

The Blue Devils stay on the road this weekend for what could be their toughest test of the non-conference season. KCKCC takes on Southwestern of Creston, Iowa, at 5 p.m. Friday in the first round of the Kirkwood Classic in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and then clashes with No. 2 ranked Kirkwood Saturday at 3 p.m. in a collision of the last two national champions – Kirkwood winning in 2018 and KCKCC in 2019.

Defensive rebounding and thievery were instrumental in the win over Washburn. KCKCC gave up just four offensive rebounds while grabbing 15 of its own in winning the battle of the boards 47-41.

The Blue Devils also forced 30 turnovers, half of which came off steals led by Aliyah Myers with four and Brodi Byrd with three. The Ichabods were also limited to 30.7 percent shooting from the field.

Kamryn Estell, a 6-1 freshman from Belton, led the Blue Devils with a near double-double, 21 points and a game high nine rebounds. Estell was the only Blue Devil in double figures in scoring but five teammates scored eight or more in a deep and well-balanced offensive attack.

Alieyya Jones and Tiaira Earnest each added nine points and Byrd, Aliyah Myers and Mercer Roberts eight apiece. All are freshmen with the exception of Byrd. Jones also hauled down eight rebounds and Byrd and Destiny Zamudia five each.

“Very happy with our performance tonight, especially on the defensive end,” KCKCC coach Joe McKinstry said. “We had a very short practice today in which we discussed some points of emphasis that we wanted to focus on defensively and the girls did a great job taking that information and executing our plan. We had 15 steals and nearly all of them were forced by effort, energy and defensive purpose.”

KCKCC led just 13-10 after one quarter before Estell and Myers combined for 16 points in a 26-12 second quarter that ballooned the Blue Devil lead to 39-22 at halftime.

Estell had nine points on 4-of-5 shooting while Myers added seven, taking three shots and making all three including a 3-pointer. The Blue Devils, who never trailed, led by as many as 26 points in the third quarter although shooting only 30.8 percent from the field and 22.7 percent from 3-point.

“We are still trying to find our way on offense but Kamryn Estell is establishing herself as a great presence around the basket,” McKinstry said. “She forced 11 fouls called on Washburn defenders, all because of her physicality and hard work. Destiny Zamudia, Tiaira Earnest and Aliyah Myers all had great games as well. Part of what can make this team very dangerous is that they are all capable of impacting the game in a lot of areas, and I felt like those three, in particular, had great energy and we really fed on that.”

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