By ALAN HOSKINS
KANSAS CITY, KAN. ----- Kansas City Kansas Community College’s surging women’s basketball team will take a 6-game winning streak and the No. 10 ranking in the nation into a busy start to the 2014 basketball season.
Meanwhile, the Blue Devil men will be playing their 9th and 10th straight games on the road Friday and Saturday, Jan. 3-4, before returning home for the first time since Nov. 19 in a twin bill against Southeast Nebraska Monday, Jan. 6, at 7 p.m.
Playing in the Highland Classic, the Blue Devils will play Cloud County Friday and Northeast Nebraska Saturday. Both games are at 2 p.m.
The Lady Blue Devils (13-1) return to action Saturday at 2 p.m. when they host Cottey College in a big re-match before entertaining Southeast Nebraska Monday at 5 p.m. KCKCC came from eight points back to win at Cottey 79-76 in their first meeting Dec. 10.
The game will mark the return of 5-foot sparkplug guard Jamisha Crawford of Washington High School, who was injured in the second game of last season.
Balance has been the key to KCKCC’s first half success with four Lady Blue Devils averaging in double figures, four others 5.8 points or more. However, the leader at 12.6 points per game, sophomore guard Samantha Hurst, is sidelined indefinitely with a leg injury.
The other scoring leaders are all freshmen, 5-7 guard Rashaun Casey (12.5), 5-7 guard Imani White (11.6); and 5-6 guard Cassidy Harbert (10.7). The other leaders are forwards Julia Garrard (7.3), Janai Mitchell (6.7), Bailey West (6.6) and Iland Shurn (5.8).
A freshman from Wichita Northwest, Harbert is having a rare double-double start to her college career by leading the Blue Devils in both rebounding (8.4) and assists (6.4). Other rebound leaders are Garrard (6.7), Shurn (6.3), Mitchell (6.1) and White (5.9).
Brandon Ward, a 6-3 sophomore transfer from Highland in Illinois, leads the Blue Devil men in scoring with a 21.8 average. With eight games of 20 or more points, Ward was the Jayhawk Conference’s Player of the Week in late November.
Clay Young of Leavenworth heads a corps of freshmen scoring leaders, averaging 9.8 points followed by Lucas Smith (9.5) and Stephen Leimbach (8.8). Lucas leads in rebounds with 7.1 per game. At 5-8, the Blue Devils will be trying to snap a five-game losing streak against Cloud Friday.