A Kansas City Kansas Community College defense that gave up an average of just 66.7 points in the three Region VI games leading to the NJCAA Division II men's national tournament will get its biggest test Wednesday.
South Suburban Community College out of the Chicago suburb of Oak Forest, Ill., and KCKCC will collide Wednesday at 11 a.m. in Danville., Ill., in a game that will be streamed live on the NJCAA.org website.
Boasting a 31-2 record and 17 straight wins, South Suburban comes into the national tourney averaging 94.2 points a game and shooting a torrid 50.9 per cent from the field. A perennial Division II power and past champion, South Suburban is in the national tournament for the seventh time in the last 10 years.
The Blue Devils (22-11), on the other hand, are averaging 77.6 points a game while holding opponents to 67.5 per contest. In their march to the national, the Blue Devils gave up 66, 67 and 66 points in wins over Highland, Johnson County and Brown Mackie.
"If we can do that, we'll win," said KCKCC Coach Kelley Newton. "But we also know that South Suburban is a really good team, collectively the most talented team we've played this season. They've got the leading scorer in the country and the second leading rebounder."
It will be KCKCC's first appearance in the national tournament. "Tradition vs. no tradition but I think we're ready for the challenge," says Newton. "I think our schedule playing Iowa Western twice and Penn Valley twice, which is also in the tournament, and being in the Jayhawk Conference is going to help get us prepared."
South Suburban is led by 6-2 sophomore guard Jovan Mooring, a sure-fire All-American who leads the nation in scoring with 26.4 points a game, and 6-7 Shakur Pinder, a 6-7 freshman center who is second in the country in rebounding at 13.0 a game despite coming off the bench. A 49.2 percent shooter from the field, Mooring is also averaging 6.2 rebounds and 4.0 assists while Pinder scores at an 11.6 clip.
Point guard Erick Locke, a 6-1 freshman, is actually the sharpest of a host of sharpshooters for the Bulldogs, shooting 61 percent while averaging 7.8 points and leading in assists with 5.2 per game. Anthony Harris, a 6-4 forward, is shooting 57.3 percent while averaging 12.3 percent; 6-2 Jalen Myers, 47 percent and 13.5; and 6-9 Russell Robinson, averaging 9.3 points, 6.4 rebounds and shooting 61.6 percent.
The Bulldogs have scored more than 100 points 11 times in a 31-2 season including a 100-70 win over Morton in the Region IV championship game. In that game, Locke had a triple double with 10 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists while Mooring had 27 points, Harrison 16 points and 10 rebounds and Myers 21 points including 6-of-8 three-pointers.
KCKCC is expected to counter with a lineup 6-6 sophomore Joe Lendway (12.9) and 6-9 freshman Jon Murray (10.9) in the front court, 6-1 freshman Mike Lee (9.5) at point guard and 5-11 freshman Kellan Turner (10.7) and either 6-7 soph Armoni Shorter (7.2) or 6-2 soph Dehaven Talley (8.4) at the shooting guards. Front line backup will come from 6-5 Lashawn Lewis (4.7), 6-6 Trevor Young (2.8) and 6-9 Donald Metoyer (1.6) with 6-2 freshman Garrick McCuller the backup at the point. Lee leads the team in assists with 5.8 per game; Murray (7.0) and Lendway (6.5) lead in rebounds
KCKCC Coach Kelley Newton hopes to cut down another championship net as he leads the Blue Devils into their first national tournament Wednesday. (KCKCC Photo by Alan Hoskins)