by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC
Kansas City Kansas Community College had the lead when it counted most Friday.
Trailing by as many as 16 points in the first half and down 43-32 at halftime, the Blue Devils got even with two minutes left and then pulled away for an 86-84 win over North Arkansas in the Mineral Area Classic in Park Hills, Missouri.
The win snapped a 7-game losing streak for the Blue Devils, who had several rallies fall short in earlier games. This time, the Blue Devils responded with a 54-point second half, their biggest half of the season.
Jalen Davis, a 6-4 sophomore from Houston, Texas, led the way with a game and career high 31 points including the free throw that put the Blue Devils ahead to stay. Deron McDaniel, who had four 3-pointers, added 14 points.
“In the second half, we got stops, made shots and everyone stepped up and played a major role,” KCKCC coach Brandon Burgette said. “We hit the shots down the stretch which was huge – Deron made four 3’s, Ezekiel Lopes and Jermaine Yarbough each hit two 3’s.”
The Blue Devils overcame a rash of fouls and cut down on turnovers in the 54-41 second half.
“We took care of the ball in the second half after giving up 16 free throws in the first half and getting five players in foul trouble,” Burgette said. North Ark went to the free throw line 31 times in the game, making 19.
KCKCC closes out a start of eight of its first 10 games on the road today when the Blue Devils take on host Mineral Area at 5 p.m. Ranked No. 9 in Division I of the NJCAA, Mineral Area is 11-0 after a 75-60 win over Fort Scott (8-3) Friday.
The Blue Devils will close out their pre-holiday schedule at home, playing host to Washburn junior varsity Friday, State Fair Dec. 10 and Southwestern (Iowa) Dec. 14.