Blue Devil sophomore Jalen Davis missed only one of 10 shots Tuesday and this was not one of them as he took off for one of his two dunks in a 100-79 win over Labette. Davis led all scorers with 26 points along with six rebounds and five assists. (KCKCC photo by Alan Hoskins) KCKCC freshman forward Jermaine Yarbough took dead aim on a thunderous two-hand slam dunk, one of his three dunks in leading the Blue Devils past Labette 100-79 Tuesday night. (KCKCC photo by Alan Hoskins) Despite an arm around his waist, KCKCC freshman Jaemaal Newson went up for two of his six points in the Blue Devils’ 100-79 win over Labette in semifinal playoff action Tuesday. (KCKCC photo by Alan Hoskins)
by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC
Kansas City Kansas Community College is one win away from another trip to an NJCAA Division II national basketball tournament.
A surprisingly decisive 100-79 winner over Labette Tuesday, the No. 1 seeded Blue Devils will collide in a third time showdown with arch-rival Johnson County Friday night at the Sports Arena in Hutchinson at 7:30 p.m. The No. 2 seeded Cavaliers reached the Region VI finals with a 73-68 win over Highland Tuesday.
The two teams split their first two games this season, the Blue Devils winning 82-65 at home; the Cavaliers rebounding for a 98-91 behind a career high 33 points and 10 rebounds from 6-10 Lukas Milner in the final game of the season for both teams.
A win will send a Blue Devil team to a national tournament for the fourth time in four years. KCKCC’s women won national championships in 2016 and 2019; the men advanced to the national in Danville, Illinois, in 2016.
“We’ve got to be ready; I don’t think we were ready in our last game against Johnson and I put that on me,” said first year KCKCC coach Brandon Burgette. “I don’t think I had us ready. To win, we must contain Milner and the guards.”
Milner did not play in the first meeting for the Cavaliers, who also lost the Jayhawk’s leading scorer, JaQualon Mays, to a first half injury. Mays had 21 points in the second meeting.
While the Blue Devils put 100 points on the board against Labette Tuesday, the defense was equally effective, holding the Cardinals without a field goal for nearly 6½ minutes during a 21-1 stretch in which they built a 17-16 lead into a 38-17 bulge.
“We were locked in both offensively and defensively,” Burgette said. “We guarded them well, did a good job of contesting shots and getting rebounds and out-letting the ball for fast breaks. You never expect any game to be easy but now it’s win or go home and tonight we didn’t want to go home.”
Labette fifth year coach Jerrod Stanford credited KCKCC’s intensity for the win.
“We were a foot slow,” Stanford said. “You can’t win games without intensity and KCKCC had more of it tonight.”
Sophomore Jalen Davis put a spectacular end to his home career, knocking down 9-of-10 shots including a pair of 3-pointers, to lead all scorers with 24 points. He also had five rebounds, five steals and a couple of dunks.
“Jalen played great; really shot the ball well,” Burgette said.
Four other Blue Devils were in double figures. Jermaine Yarbough had 17 points including at least three thunderous slam dunks; Calvin Slaughter scored 14 points and led all rebounders with 11; Ezekiel Lopes also had 14 points including four 3-pointers and Deron McDaniel added 11 points.
Robert Rhodes led defensively with a career high seven blocks and seven rebounds while taking just three shots, making two.
“He’s been phenomenal on the glass and a great rim protector,” Burgette said.
While delighted with 53.8 percent shooting from the field (35-of-65), Burgette was more impressed with a season-high 28 assists on the 35 field goals.
“That’s amazing,” Burgette said. “It just shows what you can do when no one cares who gets the credit. You play the right way, good things happen.”
Slaughter, Lopes and Davis each had five assists, Rhodes four, Bell and Yarbough three each and Jaemaal Newson two and six points in just eight minutes of playing time.
KCKCC’s pivotal 21-1 scoring rampage came after four ties and two lead changes the first nine minutes. Yarbough started the run with a layup and two-handed dunk and Lopes drained a 3-pointer before Davis added two dunks, a layup and two free throws, Ball scored on a layup and McDaniel knocked down a trey.
The Blue Devils doubled the score by halftime 51-25, making half of their 36 shots while limiting Labette to 28.6 percent, forcing seven turnovers and controlling the rebounding 27-17.