By ALAN HOSKINS
Unbeaten North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) used spectacular free throwing to hand the Lady Blue Devils their first loss in eight games 91-87 in the Dale Howard Classic in Iowa Falls, Iowa, Friday before KCKCC defeated host Ellsworth 80-73 Saturday and Wentworth 92-65 Monday.
Meanwhile, the Blue Devil men dropped an 81-70 decision to NIACC on Friday and fell 92-79 to Ellsworth on Saturday before pulling out a 56-54 win at Wentworth.
The Blue Devil men (4-4)are right back in action in the Highland Classic this weekend, facing On Point Academy Friday and Southern Institute Saturday. Both games are at 2 p.m. The Blue Devil women (9-1) will return to action Monday, hosting Central Methodist’s JV at 5 p.m. in their final home game until Jan.4.
NIACC (7-0) converted 31 of 35 free throws to win a furious back-and-forth battle in ending KCKCC’s 7-game winning streak. Guilty of 22 fouls including four each on four players, the Blue Devils had four more field goals and three more treys but were outscored from the foul line 31-16.
Imani White led KCKCC with a career and game high 27 points and 10 rebounds while Samantha Hurst added 17 points, Cassidy Harbert 16 and Rashaun Casey 14. Harbert also led with a career high 14 rebounds and handed out six assists while Hurst added five assists and five rebounds.
Down 37-33 at the half to Ellsworth, KCKCC got big second half performances from Casey and Julia Garrard to pull away in the final four minutes.
Casey had 13 of her game high 21 points and Garrard 13 of her 15 to lead a 47-point second half comeback. Garrard also led in rebounding with eight while Hurst contributed 16 points and six rebounds, White 10 points and Harbert eight assists and six rebounds.
Tied 34-34 at halftime at Wentworth Monday, the Lady Blue Devils exploded for 58 points on 60.5 percent second half shooting. White led the way with 19 points while Hurst added 14, Harbert 12, Janai Mitchell 11 and Kala Jiggetts and Bailey West 9 each. Garrard led rebounding with nine for KCKCC, which limited Wentworth to 27 percent second half shooting.
The Blue Devil men got a pair of big scoring performances from sophomore transfer Brandon Ward, who had 26 points in each weekend game, hitting 10 of 14 shots against NIACC and 9 of 15 against Ellsworth but it wasn’t enough to overcome a rash of turnovers or a lack of size.
The Blue Devils jumped out to a 17-2 lead against NIACC only to turn the ball over 18 times in an 81-70 loss. KCKCC shot well, hitting 54.9 percent from the field but only 6 of 25 from 3-point while the Trojans were 11 of 23 from 3-point while hitting 51.9 percent and holding a 29-26 rebound edge.
Clay Young and Delondre Williams each added 12 points and each only missed once from the field. Young also led rebounding with seven.
Ellsworth took advantage of 22 KCKCC turnovers and a 39-30 command of the boards for its 92-79 win. In addition to Ward’s 26 points, Williams added a career high 19, Nate Collins 11, Young 9 and Stephen Leimbach 8. Young again led rebounding with six; Anthony Ridley in assists with six.
Lucas Smith had 12 points, Ward 11 and Young 10 as the Blue Devils went right down to the wire at Wentworth. Smith also has nine rebounds, Young seven and Ward six for KCKCC, which managed just 28.8 percent shooting but committed a season low eight turnovers.