Kansas City Kansas Community College's Lady Blue Devils literally stormed their way into their most pivotal stretch of the season Wednesday night.
Unleashing a devastating fast break attack, the Blue Devils (22-2) raced past Hesston 107-55 to set up re-matches with the two teams ahead of them in the Region VI standings. Highland (22-2) invades the KCKCC Field House Saturday at 2 p.m. before KCKCC goes to No. 1 Johnson County (24-0) next Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.
Highland (81-72) and JCCC (64-60) are the only two teams to post wins over the Blue Devils (22-2), who were ranked No. 7 in the latest NJCAA poll released Wednesday. A KCKCC win Saturday would pull the Blue Devils (4-2) into a second place tie with Highland (5-1), which suffered its first Region VI loss at Johnson County 60-51 Wednesday.
The Blue Devils put the Hesston game out of reach in a hurry, surging to a 24-4 lead in the first eight minutes. Hitting 23 of 38 shots for a sizzling 60.5 percent with just three turnovers, KCKCC stretched the lead to 61-25 at the half. For the game, the Blue Devils shot 56.2 percent, dominated the rebounding 49-29 and had 15 steals.
"That's our best game of the year from an offensive standpoint," said KCKCC Coach Joe McKinstry. "We shared the ball well, something we've done well most of the season. But tonight we were really good with our decision making and going through our progressions as far as our options in our offensive set plays."
Four Blue Devils scored 17 or more points in their sixth straight win. Cheyenne North had 24 points, Brooklyn Wagler 20, Brie Tauai a career high 19 and Erin Anderson 17. Anderson also led in rebounds with nine and spearheaded the fast break attack with seven assists. Tauai also contributed seven rebounds and North six as all 11 Blue Devils had at least one rebound and one assist and all but one scored.
Defensively, KCKCC limited the Lady Larks to 29.2 percent shooting in the decisive first half and forced a total of 18 turnovers for the game. "Our defense continued to stay solid," said McKinstry. "I am constantly reminding the team to not look at the scoreboard and to stay focused on our defensive principles so that we don't develop any bad habits. They've responded tremendously and it has showed in our effort and intensity the past couple of weeks."
KCKCC's Erin Anderson (0) left three Hesston players far behind as she and Sierra Roberts (11) combined on one of numerous fast breaks in the Blue Devils' 107-55 win Wednesday. Anderson led in assists (7) and rebounds (9) while scoring 17 points. (KCKCC Photo by Whitney Hazlett)