It was a happy band of Kansas City Kansas Community College Blue Devils returning from Allen County Wednesday night.
Minutes after they finished off a 69-60 win over Allen County in Iola, the Blue Devil men learned that Johnson County had lost 67-63 at Fort Scott to assure KCKCC a first round bye in the Division II playoffs.
“Everyone was real excited,” said coach Jon Oler. “This is something we’ve been striving for for the last couple of weeks. With a first round bye, we’re just two wins from playing in the national tournament.”
Division II playoffs will begin Saturday, March 2, with Johnson County (5-5) and Fort Scott (4-5) expected to host first round games against Hesston (3-3) and Highland (3-6) depending on results of remaining games. Brown Mackie (7-2) and KCKCC (6-4) would then host semifinal contests Tuesday, March 5, with the winners advancing to the championship game Saturday, March 9, at Park City.
The KCKCC women could also be host to a playoff game despite a 63-52 loss at Allen County. Should Hesston (3-6) lose at Brown Mackie (4-5) Wednesday, Hesston and the Lady Blue Devils (3-7) would finish in a tie for fourth place necessitating a coin flip to determine the host of a first round playoff game against each other March 2.
Not only did the KCKCC men clinch a second place finish and first round bye in Division II Wednesday, the Blue Devils stretched their current win streak to seven in a row, took over undisputed possession of fourth place in the Jayhawk East (9-7) and evened their season record at 14-14 with two games to go, both at home. “It was really good to get back to .500 after getting off to such a slow start,” said Oler, whose Blue Devils started the year 3-10.
The Blue Devils will try to make it eight in a row Saturday night when they host Labette following KCKCC Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. The women’s game will tip off at 6 p.m. with the induction of Stephanie Brown, Dinsdale Morgan, Steve Burleson and the 1976 World Series baseball team into the Hall, of Fame to follow, KCKCC will close out regular season play Wednesday against Coffeyville in a Sophomore Night twin bill at 5 and 7 p.m.
Balance continued to carry the KCKCC men as five Blue Devils scored in double figures. Dominiaue Washington led with 19 points and seven rebounds while Antonio Winn added 14 points and Josh Rupperecht, Jordan Banks and D.J. Booker 10 each.
The Lady Blue Devils limited Allen County to just 26.4 percent shooting for the game but could only mange 5 of 30 first half shots for 16.7 percent and fell behind 29-19. Alexandria Blaurock had 13 points, Paris Johnson 9 and Jherica Montgomery 8 for the Blue Devils. Montgomery also had 10 rebounds and Blaurock and Bailey West seven each as KCKCC had a 47-45 edge in rebounds.