A lot of wild and unique basketball games have been played in the nearly 50 years of the Kansas City Community College Field House. Another was added Wednesday night.
Playing with just six players including a redshirt freshman playing only his second college game, Coach Kelley Newton's Blue Devils never trailed in a stunning 60-53 win over Labette before an enthusiastic crowd at Academic Achievement Night.
The win was the first in Region VI play for the Blue Devils (8-17), who are right back home Saturday for a 4 p.m. clash with league-leading Johnson County, 5-0 in conference play 13-12 overall. The win also boosted KCKCC into a tie with Hesston for fourth place in Region VI.
The Blue Devils grabbed control right out of the box against Labette (11-14), storming to a 17-0 lead and building it to 28-4 with seven minutes left in the half. Trailing 33-18 at the half, the closest the Cardinals could get was 52-48 before Malcolm Tate delivered the final dagger with a 3-pointer with less than a minute remaining.
Needless to say, the Blue Devils got big performances out of all six players. Juwan Davenport led all scorers with 25 points, playing all 40 minutes while entrusted with breaking Labette's second half full-court press defense. "I wasn't tired at all, I felt good," said Davenport, who had the ball in his hands 60 percent of the Blue Devil possessions. "I was just so proud of my teammates and the way we stayed focused with so much going on."
Despite a cut over his left eye, Tate scored 14 points including 3-of-4 3-pointers. Tyson Beringer led all rebounders with 12, scored seven points and blocked three shots as guardian of the rim. Josiah Laws had six points and was second in rebounding with five; DuVonte Beard led in assists with five and scored four points; and Chance Scott scored two key field goals and grabbed three rebounds in 19 minutes off the bench in only his second college contest.
"They deserved this, they've worked so hard and stayed so focus," said Newton. "We had exhibited toughness for 25-30 minutes in our last game and our goal tonight was to extend it to 40 minutes and play through our mistakes and they did that. I couldn't be any prouder of these six guys."
The Blue Devil defense was the catalyst in the win, setting the stage for the 17-0 start as the Cardinals misfired on their first 11 shots and were forced into five turnovers before finally scoring with 10:57 left in the first half. Just 6-of-27 the first half for 22.2 percent, the Cardinals finished at 33.3 percent for the game.
Meanwhile, KCKCC was putting up just 38 shots. Working the 30-second clock down, the Blue Devils netted 20 shots for a crisp 52.6 percent including 6-of-13 3-pointers, three each by Davenport and Tate.
The KCKCC lead was still 48-32 with 7½ minutes to go when the Cardinals made a big closing push, closing their deficit to 52-48 before Tate beat the 30-second clock with a 3-pointer from deep in the corner with 53 seconds for the game clincher. Davenport, who was 10-of-12 from the foul line, then closed out the win with five of six free throws.
In Wednesday's other games, Johnson County stayed unbeaten in the league with a 99-83 win over Hesston while Highland was defeating Fort Scott 85-43.
PHOTO IDENT (kckcc's 6 guys)
KCKCC's first Jayhawk Conference win, a 60-53 victory over Labette Wednesday, brought smiles to (from left) Chance Scott, DuVonte Beard, Malcolm Tate, Josiah Laws, Tyson Beringer and Juwan Davenport. (KCKCC Photo by Alan Hoskins)