by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC
Coach Kelley Newton unveiled his all-new Kansas City Kansas Community College men’s basketball team for the home fans Saturday night and there wasn’t much not to like.
Unleashing a lightning quick offensive attack, pressure defense and total rebound domination, the Blue Devils raced to a 100-61 win over Ottawa University’s junior varsity to set up a week in which they’ll be at home for three games in six days.
It all starts Monday when the KCKCC women entertain Saint Mary’s junior varsity at 5 p.m. followed by a men’s contest against Park University’s junior varsity at 7 p.m. Then it’s the annual Keith Lindsey Classic Friday and Saturday.
Led by a trio of guards who combined for 60 points, five Blue Devils scored in double figures while forwards DuVonte Beard and Josiah Laws had double rebounding figures.
Solomon Thomas, a 5-11 freshman from Hogan Prep, followed up his season-opening 29-point performance with 27 points while backcourt running mates Dion Union of Olathe East added 17 points and Zion Buckner of Sedalia 16.
Dion Union also had 11 assists for his first collegiate double double while Buckner added four assists and Thomas three as 24 of KCKCC’s 41 goals came off assists.
“I thought our transition game was good,” Newton said. “We were able to get the ball and go which enabled us to work at our pace – which is definitely a strength and a goal of ours. Our small guards are awfully quick which keys the transition game.”
Equally important, the Blue Devils controlled the inside game, outrebounding the Braves 53-34. Beard, a 6-6 freshman from Ruskin, had 16 points and 11 rebounds for his first double double; Laws, a sophomore from Cumming, Ga., led the rebounding with 12; and 6-5 Arother Ratliff of Greenwood, Miss., had 10 points and four rebounds.
Their domination enabled the Blue Devils to score 50 points in the paint including 14 on second chances to just two for the Braves.
Shooting 53.8 percent, KCKCC opened a 51-27 halftime lead and finished the game with 41-of-79 from the field for 51.9 percent. Ottawa, meanwhile, was limited to 19-of-62 shots for 30.6 percent.
The Blue Devils also forced 17 turnovers which were converted into 21 points.
“Our defense and rebounding gave us the opportunity to get into our transition game,” Newton said. “We have a lot of things we have to clean up to get better but 2-0 is a good start.”