Brandon Burgette got an early Christmas present Tuesday – an 87-74 Kansas City Kansas Community College win over State Fair, his first victory over an NJCAA Division I team.
The win was the fourth in the last five games for the Blue Devils, who forged a lead early in the second half and then turned back every State Fair challenge.
"I told our team after our loss to Mineral Area that our goal was to be 4-0 going into the break," said Burgette. KCKCC (5-8) can reach that goal Saturday in a 4 p.m. home game against Southwestern (Iowa).
State Fair (10-6) and KCKCC battled through nine lead changes and seven ties in the first half and exchanged leads 13 times and had nine deadlocks total before the Blue Devils grabbed the lead for good with 16:15 remaining.
Bishop Miege sophomore Ezekiel Lopes put KCKCC ahead to stay 46-45 with a spectacular dunk off a missed shot and then drained a pair of 3-pointers to expand the lead to 53-46, a lead the Blue Devils would not give up. The closest the Roadrunners could get was 58-57 with 11:07 remaining but freshman Deron McDaniel knocked down a pair of threes to make it 64-57 and the defense took it from there, forcing three straight turnovers.
"We did a great job of forcing 18 turnovers which led to transition baskets," said Burgette. "Getting 20 points off turnovers is great. And we took care of the ball (9 turnovers). That was the main thing, that and getting stops and making them take some bad shots. And we made free throws (20-of-24), the best percentage this season."
The Blue Devils also got a big shot in the arm from sophomore Jalen Davis, who came off the bench in the second half to score 14 points and grab five rebounds. "Jalen really stepped up in the second half," said Burgette.
Four Blue Devils scored in double figures led by the 3-point shooters, Lopes and McDaniel, each with three treys with Lopes scoring 17 points and McDaniel 15. Robert Rhodes provided the early offense with 12 first half points along with five assists and a game high nine rebounds and Calvin Slaughter added nine points and five rebounds.
The night's unsung hero was DeAngelo Ball, a 5-9 freshman from JC Harmon, who had a career high nine assists and just one turnover against an aggressive State Fair defense. For the game, the Blue Devils had 20 assists on 28 field goals.
Three-point goals were also paramount to the win. KCKCC outscored State Fair 33-3 from the perimeter, the Roadrunners making only 1-of-18 for 5.6 percent. The Blue Devils were 11-of-30 for 36.7 percent from 3-point and the two teams were almost dead even from the field at 41 percent.
"All week this team has been 10 times better than all year," said Burgette. "It's been consistent, all 10 guys buying into the system and believing in each other. No one cares who scores. It becomes contagious."