by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC
Over the hurdle of long-time rival Penn Valley 81-69 in the Keith Lindsey Classic Saturday, Kansas City Kansas Community College’s unbeaten women’s basketball team takes to the road for its toughest test of the season to date at North Arkansas Wednesday.
Tipoff in Bentonville will come at 5 p.m. with a KCKCC-North Ark men’s game to follow at 7 p.m. before both Blue Devil teams return home Friday, the women as hosts to Park University’s junior varsity at 5 p.m. and the KCKCC men as hosts of Saint Mary junior varsity at 7 p.m.
KCKCC (6-0) had to overcome a season high 29 turnovers against an aggressive pressing defense thrown at them by Penn Valley.
They did it with rebound domination (48-30) and accurate shooting (49.2 percent). With Kisi Young and Caitlyn Stewart leading the way, the Lady Blue Devils had little difficulty in breaking the press but all too often failed to capitalize on their fast-break opportunities.
KCKCC could only convert 23 Penn Valley turnovers into 20 points; the Lady Scouts scored 19 points off the 29 Blue Devils miscues.
“We haven’t spent a lot of time on our press break in practice so for the most part I was pretty happy with how we handled Penn Valley’s press,” KCKCC coach Joe McKinstry said. “Yes, turnovers are a concern but when you’re playing that fast for an entire game, you’re going to turn the ball over more times than usual.”
The Blue Devils trailed by as many as six points midway through the first quarter but once they got the lead they were never headed. Leading 38-32 at halftime, they led by as many as 17 points in the third quarter. Closest the Lady Scouts got was 74-67 with 3:54 left but a layup by Nija Collier on a nifty pass from Young, a rebound goal by Alix Wilson and a put-back by Collier re-opened the lead to 81-69.
Collier posted her second double-double of the Lindsey Classic, scoring 19 points and grabbing a game-high 15 rebounds while Young had a game-high 20 points on 10-of-14 shooting along with seven rebounds and three assists.
Piper guard Miya Ford came off the bench with her finest performance, scoring 13 points including a pair of 3-pointers while Stewart was a huge thorn in the Lady Scouts’ side with eight assists, six rebounds, five steals and aggressive defensive play.
“From my view point, that was an ugly game but even in the ugly ones, it feels good to get a win,” McKinstry said. “This is a very young and inexperienced team and we’ve had six games in 11 days which means we haven’t had a lot of practice time. That’s my fault because I make the schedule. But I’m very proud of how hard they compete and their intensity.”