NEWCOMERS IN KEY ROLES AS BLUE DEVILS BEAT DEFENDING CHAMPS
Kelley Newton's first regular season region win will go down as one to remember -a furious, gut-checking 84-78 decision over Brown Mackie's defending Division II champions Saturday, Jan. 3.
"A great, great win over a very good Brown Mackie team," said an elated Newton. "The way we competed, especially rebounding against a team with so much size, was awesome."
The Blue Devils (10-4) can make it an even better start to the new year Tuesday when they host Penn Valley in a rematch of an earlier 72-71 loss at Penn Valley. Tipoff is 7 p.m. following a KCKCC-Saint Mary JV women's game at 5 p.m. Then its Jayhawk Conference play the rest of the season starting with a home twin bill with perennial power Cowley Saturday at 2 and 4 p.m.
Two newcomers who were not eligible the first semester, 6-2 guard Babajide Aina, a transfer from Prairie View A&M, and 6-6 Chicago freshman LaShawn Lewis made major contributions to the win. Aina had a spectacular debut with 15 points, 14 rebounds, nine assists and six steals as he narrowly missed recording only the third KCKCC triple double in history while Lewis shared KCKCC scoring honors with 16 points before fouling out.
CJ Vallejo also had 16 points including 4-of-6 three-pointers while Austin Hall added 13 points and five rebounds, Joe Lendway 11 points and four rebounds and Ray Ridley nine points and three assists. Rebounding was critical. Brown Mackie had two 6-11 sophomores in the starting lineup but the Blue Devils gave up only six offensive rebounds while playing the Lions even on the boards 42-42.
Trailing 61-50 with 15 minutes to go in a game that had 18 lead changes, KCKCC went ahead to stay 60-59 on the first of three quick layups by Hall and stretched the lead to 69-61 on baskets by Lendway, Ridley and a trey by Vallejo and led by as many as 12 in the closing seconds.