Finding the right chemistry for a young basketball team is tough enough for a first year head coach. Doing it on the road is even tougher.
For the second time in less than 20 hours, Kansas City Kansas Community College had a big second half rally come up short in a 74-71 loss to Ellsworth Saturday. The loss came in the Koenigsmark Klassic in Mason City, Iowa, and left the Blue Devils 1-2 heading into the final game of a four-game season opening road trip at Allen County Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Trailing 42-32 at halftime, the Blue Devils went ahead with seven minutes remaining before Ellsworth (4-1) pulled away in a see-saw finish. "After Friday's second half rally against NIACC, I thought with the late ending and quick turnaround Saturday, we would be hungry and eager to play," said KCKCC Coach Brandon Burgette. "Instead. I think we were tired and fatigued."
The Blue Devils got a standout double-double performance from 6-8 Sevon Witt, who had game highs of 31 points and 13 rebounds although in foul trouble with four. Robert Rhodes, a 6-7 freshman from Park Hill South, just missed a double-double with nine points and 12 rebounds as KCKCC dominated the rebounding 56-30 with 24 of the boards coming on the offensive end.
Cody Dortch added nine points, Ezekiel Lopes eight points and six rebounds and Jalen Davis six points and five rebounds for the Blue Devils, who had just 12 turnovers to nine for Ellsworth. "Ellsworth couldn't handles our bigs but our bigs couldn't score around the basket," said Burgette.
Field goal shooting continued to be a problem. The Blue Devils were just 27-of-73 from the floor for 37.0 percent and a frigid 2-of-18 from 3-point (.111). "We're in a rough patch struggling to score," said Burgette. "We're just not shooting the ball well anywhere on the floor. In the two days, we barely shot 30 percent from the field and less than 20 percent from 3-point.
"Having 24 offensive rebounds and not scoring really hurts. We're going to have to step up and make shots and make plays. It's still early but we've got to figure out about us as a team and an identity. We have to stay together. "It's a long road ahead of us. With two home games and then five more on the road, it doesn't get any easier."
After Tuesday's game at longtime rival Allen County in Iola, the Blue Devils finally get to play at home in the Keith Lindsey Classic. They'll host another longtime foe in Cowley College Friday at 8 p.m. and North Central Missouri Saturday at 6 p.m.