Just two wins away from the NJCAA Division II national tournament, Kansas City Kansas Community College’s first hurdle comes Wednesday when the Blue Devils host Hesston in semifinal Region VI tournament play at 7 p.m.
The Blue Devils, who finished second in Division II with a 6-4 record an 15-15 overall, swept the season’s series with Hesston, winning 81-65 at home in mid-December and at Hesston 82-71 in early February.
An upset 82-68 winner in opening round playoff action at Johnson County Saturday, Hesston will bring a 21-10 record into the game. However, nine of the 21 wins came against junior varsity teams and Hesston was just 3-7 in conference play.
The Blue Devils, meanwhile, have been one of the Jayhawk Conference’s hottest teams. After starting the season 3-10, the Blue Devils are 12-5 and had an 8-game winning streak snapped by Jayhawk Conference champion Coffeyville (29-1) 83-81 in their season finale. The big finish enabled KCKCC to finish in a tie for third in the Jayhawk with a 10-8 record, one of their best finishes ever.
The other semifinal will be played Tuesday and send Fort Scott (14-17) to Brown Mackie, which won the Division II Conference title with a 24-5 record and a No. 7 national ranking. Fort Scott gained the semifinals with an 85-84 overtime win at Highland Saturday.
The Division II championship game will be played Saturday at 3 p.m. at Jack Hartman Arena in Park City just north of Wichita. The winner will advance to the 16-team national tournament to be played at Danville Area Community College in Danville, Ill., March 19-23.