Over the years Kansas City Kansas Community College and Penn Valley have guaranteed fiercely fought and highly contested battles down to the wire and Tuesday's resumption of the long-standing rivalry was no exception.
Buoyed by a rare 6-point play and a stifling defensive effort, KCKCC rallied from a 12-point deficit in the final nine minutes for a come-from-behind 75-68 win that wasn't decided until the final 27 seconds.
The win gave the Blue Devils a sweep of this season's two-game series (KCKCC won 64-62 at Penn Valley) and a 10-6 record heading into their final game before heading into conference play, a home contest with Wentworth Military Academy Thursday at 7 p.m. Home against North Central at 5 p.m. today, the KCKCC women will also be right back in action Thursday, hosting the Kansas Nuggets at 5 p.m.
Trailing by as many as 14 points with 12 minutes left and still down 63-51 at the 9:00 mark, the Blue Devils cut their deficit in half without a second being run off the clock. It started with KCKCC's Mike Lee being fouled by Houston Shackelford, who was also assessed a technical foul and when Penn Valley Coach Marcus Harvey protested too strenuously, he too drew a technical foul.
Freshman Kellan Turner made the most of the technical fouls, draining four straight free throws and Lee added a pair to make it 63-57 and ignite a 24-12 finishing burst. Jonathan Murray and Trevor Young highlighted the comeback with a pair of baskets each but it was not until the 1:21 mark that KCKCC finally went ahead on back-to-back baskets by Turner, who also found Joe Lendway for a clinching layup with 27 seconds left.
"I thought we showed great resiliency and fight," said KCKCC Coach Kelley Newton. "I told the team that this was the first Blue Devil team win, that they finally realized what it is to be and a Blue Devil and showed great character in facing adversity."
The comeback would have not been possible, however, had it not been for the Blue Devil defense which held Penn Valley without a field goal and just two free throws in the final 7:38 of play as KCKCC erased a 66-59 deficit. "I didn't realize that," said Newton. "I knew we were giving them only one shot and I liked that."
The Blue Devils also got a big performance off the bench from Trevor Young, A freshman from Lansing whose older brother Clay preceded him at KCKCC and now is on the KU basketball team, led the Blue Devils with 15 points and nine rebounds – with Clay looking on. "I'm going to have to come more; he (Trevor) had 15 points at Penn Valley and I was at that game," said Clay. "Trevor played within himself, something we've talked about with all our players," said Newton. "He defended, rebounded and took what the offense gave him."
Six Blue Devils scored eight or points. Lendway had 11 points and 7 rebounds, Jonathan Murray 10 points and 8 rebounds and Xavier Gaona 9 points, 4 assists and a game high 10 rebounds to lead the way while Lee added eight points and five assists, Turner eight points and four assists.