Two remarkably similar teams will square off when No. 4 seeded Kansas City Kansas Community College takes on No. 12 Waubonsee in opening round play of the NJCAA Division II national women's basketball tournament at Johnson County Wednesday.
Game time is 11 a.m. and the contest will be streamed live on the NJCAA.org website. Waubonsee is located in the Chicago suburb of Sugar Grove, Ill., and ironically plays in the same district as KCKCC's opening foe in the men's national tournament, South Suburban.
The similarity in women's teams starts with size. Neither team has a 6-footer on its roster and neither squad is deep. The Lady Blue Devils have just nine healthy players; the Lady Chiefs eight and each boasts well-balanced offenses. In addition, both teams were lower seeds on their road to the national tourney and both are on winning streaks, albeit Waubonsee's string of wins is much longer. The 26 wins are the most ever for the Lady Chiefs, who are in the national tourney for the second straight season. KCKCC's only other national tournament appearance came in 1997.
"Waubonsee was 8-7 in January, now they are 26-7 which means they've won 18 in a row making them the second or third hottest team coming into the tournament," says KCKCC Coach Joe McKinstry. The Blue Devils, meanwhile, have won six in a row including back-to-back wins over No. 4 Highland and No. 1 JCCC.
The No. 3 seed in Region IV, Waubonsee gained the national tourney with a 57-55 win over South Suburban on a 15-foot jump shot by leading scorer Julianna Wadsworth with three seconds remaining. Wadsworth finished with 15 points and seven rebounds while Jenae Row led with 19 points and 10 rebounds.
KCKCC had to knock off the No. 1 team in the nation to get to the nation, handing Johnson County its first loss 63-56. Aricca Daye led KCKCC with 17 points while Cheyenne North added 14 points and 11 rebounds and Brooklyn Wagler 14 rebounds.
All five starters average in double figures for Waubonsee led by Wadsworth, a 5-9 sophomore guard who is averaging 20.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and shooting 84.5 percent from the foul line. The others are 5-8 Rowe, the rebound leader at 9.2 who is averaging 10.9 points; 5-8 Libby Love, 12.1 points; 5-5 Coriesha Bailey, 13.6; and 5-9 Elizabeth Skaggs, 10.9. Bailey (6.9) and Wadsworth (5.0) are the assist leaders.
The Blue Devils will go with their season long starting lineup of North, who leads in scoring (15.8) and rebounding (10.9); Erin Anderson, 15.5 points; Sierra Roberts, 11.0; Wagler, 11.0; and Daye, 9.2. Daye also leads in assists with 4.2 a game while Wagler is averaging 7.1 rebounds.
"Without looking at game films, I think we're very similar teams with very similar styles," says McKinsey. "Anyone averaging 20 points a game getting to the national tournament has to be an outstanding player. She's a real good free thrower and probably pretty aggressive."
KCKCC's Lady Blue Devils didn't get to cut down the nets when they won the Region VI championship a week ago Thursday to they did the honors this week in the KCKCC Field House, while continuing preparations for opening round national tournament action at Johnson County Wednesday at 11 a.m. (KCKCC Photo by Alan Hoskins)