Sierra Roberts helped make Kansas City Kansas Community College history by helping the Lady Blue Devils win the College's first NJCAA Division II national basketball championship in history.
Now she's going to make more history by being a member of the first women's basketball team at Bellevue University in Bellevue, Neb.
"It's going to give me the opportunity to do something the first time, kind of like what we did here," said Roberts, who averaged 11.1 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists in leading the Blue Devils to a 33-3 record, the second best in KCKCC history. A private college located 10 minutes from Omaha, Bellevue has about 700 students on campus but more than 10,000 on-line.
"Sierra will be a great player for Bellevue as they get their women's program up and running," said KCKCC Coach Joe McKinstry. "She's a shot maker whose ability to stretch the defense can be a tremendous asset to her team and its success. She's also excellent on the defensive end with a high basketball IQ and the understanding where she is supposed to be on the floor at all times."
Roberts had several suitors including Bethany, Ottawa, McPherson and Iowa Wesleyan but it was Bellevue coach Dave Denly who came away the winner. "He was so genuine and concerned about what I would do after I graduated and how he could help set me up and get me into coaching, which is my goal," said Roberts. "He said I was basically perfect for the program because of the way I can shoot, handle and take the ball to the basket."
An all-state and all-Sunflower League performer while at SM South High School, Roberts selected KCKCC over neighboring Johnson County. "I just thought KCKCC was more friendly, truly cared and saw my potential," said Roberts, who was recruited by head coach Valerie Stambersky and assistant Shaun Burki."It was definitely the right decision. I learned a lot from both coaches, Coach Val and Coach Mac. And I grew a whole lot as an individual as well as a player."
Ironically, it was KCKCC's 63-56 win over JCCC in the Region VI championship game that got the Blue Devils into the national tournament just weeks after the No. 1 ranked and undefeated Cavaliers had hung a 91-61 setback on KCKCC, a loss that Roberts says was the turning point of the season. "It was just a bad game and really motivated us. It made us push harder, that a single game would not define us and we came together on our ultimate goal, the national championship."
The Blue Devil leader in 3-point goals, Roberts was 4-for-8 on treys in KCKCC's 81-59 wins over No. 1 ranked Monroe in the national semifinals and No. 2 Illinois Central in the title game. Averaging 10.5 points and 5 rebounds in the national tourney, her 16 points led the Blue Devils in the championship game and sealed Bellevue's decision to put her at the top of the recruiting list.
Roberts' biggest offensive night came in 31-point performance against Sterling, a game in which she made seven 3-pointers, just one off the KCKCC single game record. But "Winning the national tournament was the highlight, definitely," she said. "It was so great getting that trophy."
KCKCC sophomore guard Sierra Roberts (right) leaves a national basketball championship trophy and numerous other awards with assistant coach Chamissa Anderson and the rest of the Blue Devil coaching staff and program as she moves on to the first-year women's program at Bellevue University in Bellevue, Neb. (KCKCC Photo by Alan Hoskins)