by Alan Hoskins,
Unleashing frustrations built up over a string of close defeats, the Blue Devils of Kansas City Kanas Community College posted the biggest upset of the opening round of the Region VI playoffs Saturday.
Shooting a torrid 59 percent in their best performance of the season, the Blue Devils hung a 69-57 haymaker on Johnson County to move into the Division II playoffs at Fort Scott Tuesday at 7 p.m. It will be the third meeting with the Greyhounds, who won at home 84-74 and then escaped 51-50 last Wednesday at KCKCC.
“Another opportunity,” said KCKCC Coach Kelley Newton, whose Blue Devils have been on an upward climb the last three weeks. Although winless in 10 Jayhawk games, four of the last five losses were by a total of six points – two by one point and two by two points.
Avenging 59-49 and 63-61 losses at the hands of JCCC, the Blue Devils forged a 29-26 halftime lead, exchanged second half leads and then grabbed control midway through the final period in ending an 11-game losing streak.
“We paid attention to detail and everyone played good team defense…and shot the ball really well, far and away the best of the year,” said Newton, whose Blue Devils were 26 of 44 from the field (,590) including a sizzling 9 of 11 from 3-point (81.8 percent) while limiting the Cavaliers to 18-for-49 for 36.7 percent.
Freshmen Antonio Ridley, Clay Young and Marcus Allen led the way. A 5-8 point guard from Hogan Prep, Ridley had 19 points, seven assists and one turnover. Young, a 6-4 freshman from Lansing, led rebounding with eight and had 17 points and three assists. Allen, a forward from Sumner Academy, also had 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting while Stephen Leimbach’s 12 points included 3-of-5 shooting from 3-point to go along with 3-for-3 by Young and 2-for-2 by Ridley.
“Clay Young played his tail off,” said Newton. “Antonio Ridley was outstanding, very efficient with just one turnover; Marcus Allen played well and Stephen Leimbach shot the ball well. We had 17 assists to nine turnovers which was a very good 2-to-1 assist to turnover ratio. We didn’t lead in rebounds but were competitive (JCCC led 28-25).”
Tuesday’s winner will play the winner of the Hesston at Brown Mackie Saturday in Wichita for the right to advance to the Division II national tournament.