A whole lot of good things happened to Kansas City Kansas Community College's nationally ranked women's basketball team Wednesday night, not the least of which was an 82-41 win over Fort Scott.
Caroline Hoppock re-wrote the KCKCC 3-point record mark; the No. 9 ranked Lady Blue Devils (20-3) had their best defensive effort of the season; and they vaulted into a four-way tie for the Jayhawk Conference lead thanks to Labette's 72-54 thrashing of No. 1 ranked and previously unbeaten Johnson County.
The win sets up a huge home court showdown Saturday at 2 p.m. against No. 3 ranked Highland (18-2), like KCKCC, Labette and JCCC 2-1 in conference play.
Hoppock tied the KCKCC record with eight 3-point field goals and established a new record for accuracy, knocking down 8-of-11 treys for 72.7 percent. "I had no idea I had that many," said Hoppock, who was mobbed by teammates at game's end. "I don't think I've ever shot the ball that well." A 5-10 freshman from Olathe East, Hoppock's eight treys tied the Blue Devil record set by Rashaun Casey in 2013-14.
"Tonight she was really, really special," said KCKCC Coach Joe McKinstry. "Not necessarily that she was hitting the 3's but she got the whole team going and we kind of needed that. We've been waiting for a night like that and I say that as a complement. She's had some tough breaks (medical redshirt season) and it's a credit to her that she's stayed the course."
Defensively, the Blue Devils forced 20 Fort Scott turnovers and limited the Greyhounds to 16-of-63 shots for 25.4 percent, a remarkable performance considering Fort Scott (15-4) was averaging 76 points a game and had played No. 1 JCCC to a 65-57 decision on Saturday. "Very, very good; our best defensive effort all year by far," said McKinstry.
Led by Caitlyn Stewart's six assists, the Blue Devils had assists on 19 of 28 field goals. They also shot 48.3 percent from the field (70 percent in a 26-point third quarter) but it took Hoppock's big night to get the 3-point shooting to 35.5 percent. Without Hoppock, the Blue Devils were 3-of-20 (.150).
The Blue Devils had to overcome a slow start. Leading just 6-5 with 3:30 left in the first quarter, it was 14-9 when Hoppock ignited the Blue Devils with a steal and short jump shot with 23 seconds left in the opening period. Kisi Young added a field goal and then Hoppock drained two 3-pointers in a span of 37 seconds to open a commanding 24-9 bulge and it was never close the rest of the way.
"We had a little bit different preparation yesterday and today at our shoot around," said McKinstry. "After watching Fort Scott film and the Highland-JCCC game Monday, I decided our problem was not our opponents but our effort and toughness levels; that they were tougher than us. I said we've played 22 games and we still had time to do better and challenged them and it showed tonight. We had some things we didn't do well but when you play hard and compete and play tough, you can overcome mistakes and we showed that tonight."