Kansas City Kansas Community College put another big, big win in its women's basketball annals Saturday.
Beaten 82-71at No. 6 Highland in mid-January, the No. 7 Lady Blue Devils not only got revenge with a 77-67 win but pulled into a tie with Highland for the all-important second place in Region VI, both at 6-2. Both the first and second place finishers will receive first round playoff byes.
The win also set up yet another showdown at No. 1 Johnson County Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. Ranked No. 1 and unbeaten, the Lady Cavaliers' (24-0) only close decision this season came in a 64-60 win over KCKCC.
Guilty of 31 turnovers in the loss at Highland, it looked more of the same in the rematch Saturday. Turning the ball over 10 times, the Lady Blue Devils fell behind 28-22 only to do a 100 percent turnaround in the final four minutes of the half. Led by Erin Anderson, KCKCC scored the last14 points of the half, the final seven by Anderson, to take a 36-28 halftime lead they never surrendered.
The Blue Devils built their lead to 16 at 58-42 to start the fourth quarter but then had to withstand a furious Highland comeback led by 6-1 Szonia Vukov, the Jayhawk Conference's leading scorer who finished with a game high 28 points. Three times the Scotties got close, the closest at 60-57 with 5:38 left but an Arrica Daye layup and a 3-pointer by Anderson rebuilt the KCKCC lead to 65-58. Highland got to within four twice more but three field goals by Cheyenne North opened the margin back to 71-63 and the Blue Devils protected the lead from the free throw line the final two minutes.
"Extremely proud," said KCKCC Coach Joe McKinstry. "There were so many moments that come to mind where different members of our team made big plays. Four of our five starters scored 14 points or more and the one who didn't, Arrica Daye, did a fantastic job of running our team, getting the ball where it needed to be and executing our game plan." Facing Highland's aggressive pressing defense, Daye had just one turnover while handing out five assists and scoring five points.
Anderson also had her finest performance, leading the late first half charge with 18 points and finishing with 24 points, eight assists, eight rebounds and two steals. North added 15 points, 13 in the second half to help repel Highland's big comeback, while Brooklyn Wagler and Sierra Roberts had 14 each. Eight of Roberts' 14 points came in the first half when she and Anderson combined for 26 of KCKCC's 38 points; Wagler had 10 in the second half that helped keep KCKCC in the lead.
"In our loss at Highland, we had 31 turnovers and were outrebounded by two so I am especially proud of how much we improved in those two statistics," said McKinstry. Not only did the Blue Devils cut their turnovers in half, only three of 15 came in the second half. Led by Anderson and North with eight each and six apiece from Roberts and Wagler, the Blue Devils outrebounded the much taller Scotties 34-26.
The win stretched KCKCC's current winning streak to seven. "Our team has put a lot of hard work in the last few weeks and I am hopeful they can fully understand how hard work plays into their performance on the court," said McKinstry.
There were big smiles all around after KCKCC's 77-67 win over Highland Saturday. The happy Blue Devils included (front row, from left) Erin Anderson, Valencia Scott, Arrica Daye, Destiny Vincent and Brooklyn Bockover; (second row) assistant coach Chamissa Anderson, Janay Jacobs, Brooklyn Wagler, Kyliea Jarrett, Ky'ana French, Cheyenne North, Brie Tauai, Whitney Hazlett, Sierra Roberts, Millie Shade and Fa'animo Samana. (KCKCC Photo by Alan Hoskins)