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Kelley Newton (KCKCC photo)
If you’re looking for fast-paced basketball action this season, you need go no farther than the Kansas City Kansas Community College Field House.
“We’ll be in shape to run. We’ve got a team full of guards so there’s no sense in trying to slow down and play a half-court game,” said Kelley Newton, who begins his first season as Blue Devil coach. “We’ll move the ball and get good looks at the basket. Defensively, we’ll pick up at 94 feet and make teams take quick shots to fuel our offense.”
A former football and basketball standout at Wyandotte High School, Newton played two years in the Jayhawk Conference at Neosho County and then two years at Oklahoma where he was a member of the Sooners’ Big 12 Tournament championship team in 2001.
Although no longer in Division I, the Blue Devils will play arguably the toughest non-conference schedule in recent years. Home for only three games in November and December, the Blue Devils play in five weekend classics in addition to hosting the annual Keith Lindsey Classic Nov. 8-9. The Classics are at North Arkansas Nov. 15-16, Ellsworth (Iowa) Nov. 22-23, Highland Nov. 29-30, Southeast Nebraska Dec. 6-7 and Highland again Jan. 3-4.
“It’s a brutal schedule and we’ll have our hands full but we’ll definitely be battle tested when we get into conference play in January and February,” Newton said.
The Blue Devils will open play with a pair of exhibitions, playing host to St. Mary Friday, Nov. 1, and Livin’ the Dream Monday, Nov. 4, before the official Lindsey Classic openers against North Ark Nov. 8 and On Point Academy Nov. 9. The only other home game before the holidays comes Nov. 19 against Allen County.
Newton inherits only one starter from last year’s 16-16 team that won 9 of its last 11 games and came with one game of the Division II national tournament.
A co-leader in assists with 4.12 per game, 6-2 point guard Antonio Winn of Truman averaged 8.8 points and 2.8 rebounds while averaging nearly 28 minutes a game. The only other veteran, 6-4 forward C.J. Vallejo of Bishop Ward, played in 10 games but did not play the second semester.
Immediate help should come from 6-3 guard Brandon Ward, a transfer from Division I Highland Community College in Freeport, Ill., where he averaged 10.8 points, 2.6 rebounds and 3.9 assists on a team that finished 23-7 and 9-3 in conference.
Anthony Ridley, a 5-8 freshman from Hogan Prep, and Winn head a promising quartert of point guards along with 6-0 Nate Collins of Pembroke Hill, who red-shirted last year; and 5-10 Collin Adney of Oklahoma City.
Vallejo, Ward and Winn head a corps of shooting guards that also includes 6-3 red-shirt Stephen Lembach of St. James Academy, Tyler Tucker of Kansas City East; Willis Garner of Harmon and 6-1 Samson Tucker of Raytown South.
“I like our guards and we have a bunch of them,” Newton said. “When you get good guard play, you always have a chance to win. They’ll provide the leadership, especially Winn and Ridley.”
Crucial will be the rebounding of the forwards, 6-7 Dayshawn McKinnon of Brooklyn, N.Y.; 6-4 Delondre Williams of Oklahoma City; 6-4 Clay Young of Lansing; and 6-3 Lucas Smith of Omaha. “We’ll rebound by committee,” Newton said. “We don’t have anyone who will get 10 a game but we have several who will get five or six a game.”
Newton is being assisted by Eric Nitsche, a former KCKCC assist leader in his second year as Blue Devil assistant.
Kansas City Kansas Community College
2013-14 MEN’s BASKETBALL SCHEDULE
Nov. 1 - St. Mary University (exhibition), 8 p.m.
Nov. 4 - Livin’ the Dream (exhibition), 8 p.m.
Keith Lindsey Classic
Nov. 8 – Highland vs. On Point Academy, 4 p.m.; KCKCC vs. North Arkansas, 8 p.m.
Nov. 9 – Highland vs. North Arkansas, 2 p.m.; KCKCC vs. On Point Academy, 6 p.m.
North Arkansas Classic (Harrison)
Nov. 12 – KCKCC vs. Mid-South, 5:30 p.m.
Nov. 13 – KCKCC vs. North Arkansas, 2 p.m.
Nov. 19 – ALLEN COUNTY, Home, 7 p.m.
Dale Howard Classic (Ellsworth, Iowa)
Nov. 22 – KCKCC vs. North Iowa, 4 p.m.
Nov. 23 – KCKCC vs. Ellsworth, 5 p.m.
Nov. 25 – Wentworth, Away, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 29 – KCKCC vs. On Point Academy, 2 p.m.
Nov. 30 – KCKCC vs. Southern Institute, 2 p.m.
Southeast Nebraska Classic (Beatrice)
Dec. 6 – KCKCC vs. Southeast, 8 p.m.
Dec. 7 – KCKCC vs. Central Nebraska, 6 p.m.
Dec. 14 – Mineral Area (at Park University), 7 p.m.
Jan. 3 – KCKCC vs. Cloud County, 2 p.m.
Jan. 4 – KCKCC vs. Northeast Nebraska., 2 p.m.
Jan. 6 – SOUTHEAST NEBRASKA, Home, 7 p.m.
Jan. 11 – Allen County, Away, 8 p.m.
Jan. 13 – WENTWORTH, Home, 7 p.m.
Jan. 16 – WESTMINSTER, Home, 7 p.m.
Jan. 20 – Penn Valley, Away, 7 p.m.
Jan. 22 – Johnson County*, Away, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 25 – Highland*, Away, 3 p.m.
Jan. 29 – BROWN MACKIE*, Home, 7 p.m.
Feb. 1 – HESSTON*, Home, 4 p.m.
Feb. 5 – Fort Scott*, Away, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 12 – JOHNSON COUNTY*, Home, 7 p.m.
Feb. 15 – HIGHLAND*, Home, 4 p.m.
Feb. 19 – Brown Mackie*, Away, 7 p.m.
Feb. 22 – Hesston*, Away, 4 p.m.
Feb. 26 – FORT SCOTT*, Home, 7 p.m.
March 1, 4 & 8 - Region VI playoffs, TBA.