The two returning members of Kansas City Kansas Community College’s 2019 national championship team made sure the Lady Blue Devils’ reign would not end on their own court Friday.
Caroline Hoppock and Brodi Byrd combined for 42 points to lead KCKCC to a 95-54 opening round Region VI playoff win. The win sends the No. 4 seeded Blue Devils (25-6) to No. 1 Labette (23-4) in Parsons Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.
Byrd scored 16 points including three 3-point goals that set a new record of 129 treys in her 2-year career while Hoppock knocked down six threes in eight attempts and led all scorers with 26 points. Byrd also had four rebounds, four assists and three steals while Hoppock was 10-of-13 from the field and led the Blue Devils in rebounding with seven.
Byrd wasted no time in tying the record of 128 threes shared by Camryn Swanson and Sierra Roberts by draining a pair with her first two shots just 1:37 into the game. The record came with 4:45 left in the second quarter. “Coach called the play for me,” said Byrd, who flipped three fingers in the direction of the KCKCC bench. “Yes I did,” said Coach Joe McKinstry of the record breaker. “She made two in the first couple of minutes but then missed about four in a row. So I said let’s get this over and called a play for a 3-point attempt from the circle.”
The two quick threes couldn’t have been a better start. “I felt a lot better after that,” said Byrd, who was well aware of her record pursuit. “My parents have been counting down all year.”
Hoppock’s six 3-pointers put her in a tie for sixth on the all-time list for most threes in a game, an all-time record she shares after making eight last season.
“Very happy they went out with a win, for sure,” said McKinstry. “Brodi broke the record and Caroline was six for eight from three; great accomplishments for their last night in this gym.”
Freshman Jada Mayberry was the only other Blue Devils in double figures with a career high 18 points and four rebounds. Aliyah Myers added nine points, Adoreya Williams seven and Destiny Zamudio, Tiaira Earnest and Kamryn Estell six each. Earnest also had five rebounds.
Offensively, the Blue Devils had an impressive 25 assists on 32 field goals with Zamudio, Earnest, Mayberry and Adoreya Williams adding three each to Byrd’s four. “That’s one thing this team has been good at from day one, sharing the ball and looking for each other,” said McKinstry.
Defensively, the Blue Devils had a season high 23 steals in forcing 34 Hesston turnovers. “Without full court pressing and trapping, we did a real good job of putting the pressure on them and being active.”
Tuesday’s meeting with Labette Tuesday will be the third this season. The Jayhawk Conference champion Cardinals won the conference opener at home 79-63, then edged the Blue Devils 66-62 at KCKCC.
“We did what we were supposed to do tonight and I’m proud of that,” said McKinstry. “But we have to clean some things up if we’re going to get a win on Tuesday.”
Just when things looked the bleakest for Kansas City Kansas Community College Wednesday, the Lady Blue Devils’ defense stepped front and center.
Trailing the Jayhawk Conference’s highest scoring team by 14 points late in the first quarter, the Blue Devils limited No. 8 ranked Highland to three field goals in the second quarter and five in the third to rally for a 69-56 win.
“Our best defensive effort; the win we’ve needed all year long,” said KCKCC Coach Joe McKinstry. “Highland is really good, fast and athletic and they really stretch you out. But our girls did a great job of helping each other out, playing defense for more than one or two steps and focusing on the whole possession.”
Indeed, the 56 points are a season low for the Lady Scotties. In fact, it was only the third time Highland (20-3) has been held under 70 points this season (they scored 62 against Labette, 63 against JCCC). Averaging 91.4 points, the Scotties put 120 points on the board against Hesston last Saturday and dealt KCKCC a 93-73 setback just 2½ weeks ago.
The win was the third in a row for the Blue Devils, who improved to 24-5 overall and 5-4 in the Jayhawk heading into the conference final at No. 7 ranked Johnson County Saturday at 2 p.m. KCKCC will then host either Hesston or Fort Scott in a first round Region VI playoff game Friday, March 28, at 6 p.m.
Catalysts in the win were 6-1 freshman Kamryn Estell and a quartet of guards who combined for 30 rebounds against the much taller Scotties. Although none stand taller than 5-foot-7, Aliyah Myers had nine rebounds, Tiaira Earnest eight, Brodi Byrd seven and Diamond Williams six. “Our guards were fantastic,” said McKinstry. In addition, Myers had 14 points and four assists and Byrd 11 points.
Estell also had eight rebounds and a team high 16 points but her effort in cutting off the baseline and Highland drives down the lane was paramount to the defense. “Kamryn is the best help defender I’ve ever had,” said McKinstry. “She’s big and strong and does a great job of recognizing what is needed and closes off (lanes) for the other team.”
Limited to just two field goals (2-of-12) and guilty of five turnovers, the Blue Devils trailed 19-5 late in the first quarter and were still down 23-13 with four minutes left in the half before Myers and Estell pulled KCKCC to 25-24. Myers and Estell each had two field goals and Jada Mayberry one with Myers finishing off the 11-2 run with a 3-pointer.
The lead changed hands three times and the game was tied five times in the third quarter when KCKCC went ahead to stay. Adoreya Williams broke a 41-41 tie with a layup and Mercer Roberts drained a long 3-pointer for a 46-41 three-quarter lead. “That 3-pointer was huge,” said McKinstry.
Highland made two big fourth quarter challenges, closing to 48-46 but Diamond Williams made two free throws and Byrd converted a 3-point play for a 53-46 edge. The Scotties closed again to 54-49 with five minutes to go but Myers knocked down a trey and Estell scored off a Myers’ rebound for a 59-49 lead and the Blue Devils expanded the margin from the free throw line.
Statistically, free throws were the difference. KCKCC made 24-of-35 including 20-of-25 the second half against a Highland team that leads the conference in fouls by a wide margin. Guilty of 26 fouls, just three over their season average, the Scotties were 7-of-17 from the foul line.
“Even early in the game I thought our defense was good,” said McKinstry. “Our focus all day was to attack, attach with the dribble. It took a while but once we figured it out, we got to the rim or it opened opportunities or we got fouled. It was a great sustained effort, one we haven’t been able to sustain. So I was very pleased the girls found out what it feels like. It’s not easy but it’s worth it.”
The loss dropped Highland into a tie for second place with Johnson County in the Jayhawk (5-3) two games back of champion Labette (8-1).
KCKCC freshman Kamryn Estell has been double teamed all season and Wednesday was no exception as she’s sandwiched between two Highland defenders. Estell had 16 points, eight rebounds in KCKCC’s come-from-behind 69-56 win. (KCKCC Photo by Alan Hoskins)
The worst thing Hesston may have done Saturday was forge a 22-22 tie with Kansas City Kansas Community College.
The Lady Blue Devils scored 22 of the next 24 points on the way to an 82-55 win. The win evened KCKCC’s Jayhawk Conference record at 1-1 and overall record at 19-2 heading into a string of three straight games on the road – at Park University JV Tuesday at 5 p.m., at Fort Scott Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. and at No. 6 ranked Highland Saturday at 1 p.m.
Caroline Hoppock and Aliyah Myers combined to break open Saturday’s win over Hesston, scoring all 14 KCKCC points in building a 36-24 halftime lead. Myers and Hoppock each had a 3-pointer and two layups after Hesston had pulled even 22-22 with 5:34 left in the half. The Blue Devils, who had given up an early 22-12 lead, then scored the first eight points of the second half to complete a 22-2 run for a 44-24 lead and Hesston never came close the rest of the way.
Hoppock led all scorers with 19 points including a trio of treys while Myers and Brodi Byrd added 13 points apiece and Jada Mayberry 11. Tiaira Earnest chipped in with eight points and Kamryn Estell and Destiny Zamudio seven each.
At 5-6, Byrd led KCKCC rebounding with nine along with four assists and two steals. Earnest also had four assists while Myers had five rebounds and Hoppock, Estell and Mayberry four each although team-wise, the Blue Devils were out-rebounded 43-38. That, however, was more than nullified by 33 Hesston turnovers that resulted in 27 KCKCC points.
“I think this team mentally and physically tired and the lack of experience is showing right now,” said KCKCC Coach Joe McKinstry. “We’ve been going at this since August, a lot longer process than any of them are used to. This is the second straight game we’ve had an awful practice the day before and the second straight day we had a reflection of our practice in the game. We got out-rebounded, had 18 turnovers and shot the ball poorly, especially from 3-point (26.9 percent). We just must do better if we’re going to compete in this conference.”
Once through this week’s three games on the road, the Blue Devils will have four of the next five contests at home starting a week from Wednesday (Feb. 5) against No. 4 ranked Johnson County. Nearly 100 KCKCC student-athletes will be recognized between games that evening as part of the annual Academic Achievement Night activities.
Kansas City Kansas Community College’s young women’s basketball team turned in a “Jekyll and Dr. Hyde” performance in a 95-78 win over Park University’s Developmental team Tuesday.
On one hand, the Blue Devils forced 21 turnovers, many of which came off a dozen steals that were turned into easy breakaway layups and accounted for at least a third of the KCKCC offense.
But the Blue Devils were also outscored 49-48 in a second half that saw the Lady Pirates knock down 18 of 35 shots for 51.4 percent shooting, easily the most points given up in any half this season.
“Disappointing,” said KCKCC Coach Joe McKinstry. “This was not a performance that is reflective of what this program is about. Our effort of defensive and offensive execution is going to get us beat on most nights. It’s simply inexcusable.”
The Blue Devils had 18 turnovers and although the easy transition baskets enabled them to shoot 50.7 percent (38-of-75) from the field, they were just 9-of-34 for a chilly 26.5 percent from 3-point and 10-of-22 (.455) from the foul line. “We were sloppy and undetailed and those are things we specifically watched on film from our loss this past weekend and that we wanted to correct,” said McKinstry.
On the plus side, the Blue Devils got a career high 24 points from their lone veteran, 5-6 guard Brodi Byrd, who was 10-of-15 from the field including 4-of-7 treys. She also led in steals with five, shared the rebounding lead with six and handed out five assists. Byrd provided the shot of the game, a mid-court 45-footer at the buzzer that helped KCKCC expand a 16-14 lead to 23-14 after one quarter. The Blue Devils were in front 47-29 at the half.
Freshman Alieyya Jones had her best night with 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting and Kamryn Estell had five assists and four rebounds to go along with 12 points. Nine of 10 Blue Devils had at least five points with Adoreya Williams adding 9, Tiaira Earnest 8 and Jada Mayberry 7.
KCKCC won the rebounding battle 47-35 with four Blue Devils sharing the lead with six – Byrd, Earnest, Alliyah Myers and Mercer Roberts. Diamond Williams led in assists with six.
“It feels good to be 5-1 at this point but we know we have to get better if we want to put ourselves in position to compete at the end of the season,” said McKinstry.
The Blue Devils are home for the last time in November this weekend when they host Southwestern Iowa (3-3) Friday at 6 p.m. and North Central Missouri (4-2) Saturday at 4 p.m. in the annual Keith Lindsey Classic. The KCKCC men will play Cowley College Friday at 8 p.m. and North Central Missouri Saturday at 6 p.m. The tournament schedule:
FRIDAY – Fort Scott women vs. North Central Missouri, 2 p.m.; Labette men vs. North Central Missouri, 4 p.m.; KCKCC women vs. Southwestern (Iowa), 6 p.m.; KCKCC men vs. Cowley, 8 p.m.
SATURDAY – Fort Scott women vs. Southwestern, noon; Labette men vs. Cowley, 2 p.m.; KCKCC women vs. North Central Missouri, 4 p.m.; KCKCC men vs. North Central Missouri, 6 p.m.
Kansas City Kansas Community College’s young women’s basketball team did something Tuesday that last year’s national champions did not do – defeat Washburn University’s JV at Washburn.
Fueled by a big second quarter, the Lady Blue Devils posted a 71-48 win in Topeka. It was the third straight win for the unbeaten and No. 1 ranked Blue Devils. Last season, the Lady Ichabods handed KCKCC a 76-74 setback, one of only four KCKCC losses in 2018-19.
The Blue Devils stay on the road this weekend for what could be their toughest test of the non-conference season. KCKCC takes on Southwestern of Creston, Iowa, at 5 p.m. Friday in the first round of the Kirkwood Classic in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and then clashes with No. 2 ranked Kirkwood Saturday at 3 p.m. in a collision of the last two national champions – Kirkwood winning in 2018 and KCKCC in 2019.
Defensive rebounding and thievery were instrumental in the win over Washburn. KCKCC gave up just four offensive rebounds while grabbing 15 of its own in winning the battle of the boards 47-41. The Blue Devils also forced 30 turnovers, half of which came off steals led by Aliyah Myers with four and Brodi Byrd with three. The Ichabods were also limited to 30.7 percent shoooing from the field.
Kamryn Estell, a 6-1 freshman from Belton, led the Blue Devils with a near double-double, 21 points and a game high nine rebounds. Estell was the only Blue Devil in double figures in scoring but five teammates scored eight or more in a deep and well-balanced offensive attack.
Alieyya Jones and Tiaira Earnest each added nine points and Byrd, Aliyah Myers and Mercer Roberts eight apiece. All are freshmen with the exception of Byrd. Jones also hauled down eight rebounds and Byrd and Destiny Zamudia five each.
“Very happy with our performance tonight, especially on the defensive end,” said KCKCC Coach Joe McKinstry. “We had a very short practice today in which we discussed some points of emphasis that we wanted to focus on defensively and the girls did a great job taking that information and executing our plan. We had 15 steals and nearly all of them were forced by effort, energy and defensive purpose.”
KCKCC led just 13-10 after one quarter before Estell and Myers combined for 16 points in a 26-12 second quarter that ballooned the Blue Devil lead to 39-22 at halftime. Estell had nine points on 4-of-5 shooting while Myers added seven, taking three shots and making all three including a 3-pointer. The Blue Devils, who never trailed, led by as many as 26 points in the third quarter although shooting only 30.8 percent from the field and 22.7 percent from 3-point.
“We are still trying to find our way on offense but Kamryn Estell is establishing herself as a great presence around the basket,” said McKinstry. “She forced 11 fouls called on Washburn defenders, all because of her physicality and hard work. Destiny Zamudia, Tiaira Earnest and Aliyah Myers all had great games as well. Part of what can make this team very dangerous is that they are all capable of impacting the game in a lot of areas, and I felt like those three, in particular, had great energy and we really fed on that.”