By ALAN HOSKINS
KANSAS CITY, KAN. ----- A 58-54 winner over Fort Scott Wednesday, Kansas City Kansas Community College will face the unenviable task of beating a team three times when the Lady Blue Devils host Fort Scott in opening round playoff action Saturday at 2 p.m.
Nipped 51-50 by Fort Scott Wednesday, the Blue Devil men, on the other hand, will get a chance to avenge two earlier losses when they play at Johnson County Saturday at 4 p.m.
A 67-60 winner at Fort Scott earlier, the 20th ranked Lady Blue Devils held off a late flurry of Lady Greyhound free throws to finish the season 23-7, KCKCC’s best since 1997 and the fourth best all-time. The Blue Devils used lengthy defensive stands to wrap up third place in the Jayhawk behind two nationally ranked teams, No. 2 Johnson County and No. 4 Highland.
Trailing 13-11 midway through the first half, KCKCC held the Greyhounds scoreless for 5½ minutes while opening a 21-13 lead and led 27-22 at the half. The Blue Devils’ biggest lead came at 44-32 with nine minutes remaining but Fort Scott closed to 46-41 with 6:34 left.
The Greyhounds were limited to only one more field goal the rest of the way but converted 14 of 16 free throws in the last half including 11 in the last 6½ minutes to close to 57-54. Cassidy Harbert’s free throw extended the lead to two possessions with a minute left and the defense blunted any last second comebacks.
Iland Shurn came off the bench to lead KCKCC with 20 points on 8 of 11 shooting while Rashaun Cassey added 11 points and Harbert nine points, seven rebounds and four assists.
The game was the last regular season home game for two sophomores, Bailey West who led all rebounds with eight and scored seven points in just 15 minutes, and Jamisha Crawford, who was a standoutt defensively while playing 26 minutes.
The third sophomore, Samantha Hurst, was sidelined for the season after being injured in the 11th game.
Beaten 84-74 at Fort Scott earlier, the Blue Devil men took the Greyhounds literally right to the wire.
Down 51-50, the Blue Devils took a time out with eight seconds left and got an open 3-point shot from Clay Young that was rebounded by Marcus Allen, who was fouled with 0.4 seconds left.
A freshman from Sumner Academy who joined the team at the semester break, Allen had the first of a one-and-one free throw attempt bounce off the rim and Fort Scott escaped with the No. 2 seed and a first round playoff bye.
Young led the Blue Devils with 16 points including three 3-pointers while Anthony Ridley added 14 and Allen 12. Ridley also had eight rebounds and six assists in a standout floor game while Lucas Smith also had eight rebounds and Young seven.
The loss closed out regular season play at 6-24 but the Blue Devils’ 0-10 Jayhawk record was certainly not indicative of how competitive they were despite being left with just seven players. Four of the last five losses were by a total of six points, two-point setbacks at the hands of JCCC and Highland and one-pointers to Hesston and Fort Scott.