Cheyenne North let out a jubilant yell as she and the rest of the Kansas City Kansas Community College women’s basketball team sprinted toward center court as the clock hit zero.
No one had slowed North and the Blue Devils all tournament, so nothing was going to slow down a championship celebration.
KCK put the exclamation point on a dominant week Saturday, routing second-seeded Illinois Central 81-59 in the championship game of the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II tournament at Johnson County Community College.
“Every game we played this year was about this moment,” said North, who was named tournament MVP and recorded a double-double with 14 points and 16 rebounds. “We were prepared for this moment and we were ready when it arrived.”
The Blue Devils won four games in four days with an average margin of victory of more than 19 points.
“We just stuck to what we knew,” said Sierra Roberts, who hit four three-pointers and led the team with 16 points. “We focused on us and what we needed to do and not the other team. It was really good how it all came together.”
KCK trailed only once in the final, 2-0. Erin Anderson immediately answered with a three-pointer to spur a 12-0 run and KCK led — most of the time by a large margin — until the final buzzer.
Illinois Central cut its deficit to six entering the second quarter, but the Blue Devils dominated the next eight minutes, outscoring the Cougars 21-7 for a 42-22 halftime lead.
KCK never led by less than 14 after halftime and at multiple times pushed its lead past 20 points.
Following Friday’s win over No. 1 seed Monroe (N.Y.) by an identical score, the Blue Devils beat the top two seeds in the tournament in a 24-hour span by 22 points each.
“It says a lot about our girls,” KCK coach Joe McKinstry said. “What we stress is to play hard and be self-aware of what we are capable of and need to work on. I think some of the teams may have been surprised at the level of play from us.”
For the second night in a row, five Blue Devils scored in double figures. Brooklyn Wagler poured in 15 points, Erin Anderson tallied 14 and Brianna Tauai added 11 for KCK.
In his first year of coaching the Blue Devils, winning a national title hadn’t sunk in for McKinstry following the game.
“It feels pretty numb right now,” he said. “But it’s a testament to our girls and how hard they have worked.”
Added North: “It feels like we deserve to be here. That’s how winning a national title feels.”
Hutchinson men lose juco title game
Salt Lake Community College won the NJCAA Division I men’s basketball championship Saturday with a 74-64 victory over host school Hutchinson CC at the Hutchinson Sports Arena.
Connor Toolson of Salt Lake led all scorers with 28 points on 11-of-20 shooting. Bashir Ahmed paced the Blue Dragons with 22 points, while Shakur Juiston had nine points and pulled down 13 rebounds.
Hutchinson shot just 2 of 22 fron behind the arc and 35 percent from the field overall. They trailed at the half 42-27.
The seventh-ranked Blue Dragons finished 32-5. The No. 13 Bruins finished 31-8.