The biggest shot in KCKCC basketball history

Stewart’s game-tying 3-ponter set up Collier’s game-winning trey in overtime

Forced into overtime by Caitlyn Stewart’s 3-point field goal with 10 seconds left, KCKCC defeated Johnson County 79-76 on this 3-point shot by Nija Collier as the clock hit the 2-second mark as shown in this photo taken by KCKCC President Dr. Greg Mosier.

by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC

It was the biggest field goal in Kansas City Kansas Community College basketball history.

No, it was not Nija Collier’s game winning 3-pointer in a 79-76 overtime win over Johnson County. That game would not have gone into overtime had not 5-5 sophomore guard Caitlyn Stewart from Wichita Maize made a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left to force overtime.

KCKCC trailed by four points with 18 seconds remaining when Lillie Moore made the first of two free throws. Her second went out of bounds off a JCCC defender.

“Quite honestly we wanted to get a quick score and then foul but we had an errant pass to the post and the ball bounced out to Caitlyn,” coach Joe McKinstry remembered. “The Johnson County girl fell to open up an opportunity for Caitlyn and she let it fly.”

It was Stewart’s third game saving 3-pointer in the final five minutes.

“Caitlyn realized last year her perimeter shooting was her downfall,” McKinstry said. “She only shot 14 percent from three and was not respected as a shooter. She worked extremely hard all summer and was ready for that moment.”

KCKCC led 76-73 in overtime only to have the Cavaliers tie the game on a 3-point shot that hit the front of the rim, bounced high of the backboard and dropped through with 15 seconds left.

“It’s a lot easier when the score is tied,” McKinstry said. “It was a simple play, one that Nija sets a flat screen and it was up to Lenaejha (Evans) to drive to the basket or get the ball back to the screener (Nija). We really had a good feeling Nija would be open because Johnson had done a good job in the middle. Lenaijha did a good job of drawing both defenders and made a great pass to Nija. I would take Nija from the top of the key over just about anyone I’ve ever seen.” With just 1.8 seconds left after Collier’s 3-pointer, the Cavaliers could not get off a game-tying shot.

The road to the national championship, however, started far sooner, before the holiday break when the Blue Devils dropped a 76-74 game to Washburn’s junior varsity in Topeka after defeating the same team by 29 points earlier.

“We didn’t play well but we still had plenty of opportunities,” McKinstry said. “We turned the ball and committed a foul to put them ahead. We drew up a play but our execution was not run properly. It was a horrible loss and definitely a low point.”

The next loss nine games later – a 74-67 home court loss to Labette in the Jayhawk Conference opener – was a season changer.

“It was certainly a wake-up call,” McKinstry said. “The girls were unsure of themselves. They had never beaten Labette, Johnson or Highland. They were questioning themselves if they had toughness or ability to compete with the teams to compete with to win the conference so we put our focus on not getting out-worked and other teams playing harder than us.”

The Blue Devils would lose only one of their last 15 games.

“The next two games we went to Hesston and put it to them (114-67) and then doubled the score (82-41) on a Fort Scott team that had been ranked,” McKinstry said. A layup off a rebound by Brodi Byrd at the buzzer let KCKCC escape 75-73 in a re-match at Fort Scott before a foul-marred 94-88 loss at nationally ranked Highland.

“I was pleased with the effort against Highland,” McKinstry said. “We missed entirely too many shots around baskets but the effort was there; just not the blue print we wanted. And the rhythm was horrible with 106 free throws. We were never able to get comfortable.”

The Blue Devils rebounded with a 64-60 win over Johnson County to clinch KCKCC’s first Jayhawk championship since 1997 and then followed a week later with the 79-76 overtime win over JCCC – the first 3-game sweep ever over their arch-rivals.

“We had three incredible games with Johnson and they really helped prepare us for the tournament,” McKinstry said.

Facing No. 6 Highland in the Region VI final in Park City, the Blue Devils used a suffocating defense to build leads of 20 points in an 84-71 win.

“Our defense against Highland and in the national championship game were the best all season,” McKinstry said.

KCKCC was never challenged in the national tournament in Harrison, Arkansas, leading by 20 or more points in all four games and by 25 in the championship contest.

Sporting KC breaks team scoring record in 7-1 win

Midfielder Gianluca Busio became Children’s Mercy Park’s youngest MLS goal scorer with this shot in the second half of the Sporting Kansas City’s 7-1 victory over the Montreal Impact. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)

by Brian Turrel

Sporting KC returned from MLS schedule’s international break rested, trained and prepared. The visiting Montreal Impact were the ones who suffered for it, as Sporting KC scored a team record 7 goals in the Saturday afternoon match at Children’s Mercy Park.

Montreal had no antidote for Sporting KC’s front line — Krisztian Nemeth in the center, Johnny Russell on the right, and Gerso Fernandes on the left. Nemeth finished the game with 3 goals, and Russell with 2. Fernandes didn’t score, but created many of the scoring chances by beating his defender on the dribble or getting open space for a pass from his supporting line.

Russell started the scoring in the 10th minute, picking up a rebound off a Nemeth shot for a 1-0 lead.

Sporting scored two more in the closing minutes of the first half. Nemeth got a fine cross from Fernandes for his first goal in the 43rd minute. Fernandes served up another assist to midfielder Felipe Gutierrez in first half stoppage time.

The scoring burst continued after halftime, with Russell’s 50th minute goal off an assist from Roger Espinoza.

Nemeth scored his second goal in the 68th minute when Russell set him up nicely with a pass into the box.

Gianluca Busio scored as a substitute in the 78th minute, becoming the youngest goal-scorer at Children’s Mercy Park. The 16 year old midfielder anticipated a move by Montreal defender Victor Cabrera to win the ball near the penalty spot and knock it in.

Nemeth finished his hat trick in the 84th minute finding himself wide open and getting a pass forward from midfielder Ilie Sanchez.

Kansas City did give up one goal in the closing minutes of the game. Montreal winger Saphir Taider broke away to slip one past goalkeeper Tim Melia in the 89th minute. It was only the second shot on frame from the Impact.

Nemeth credited his fellow forwards after the game.

“When you play with wingers like Johnny and Gerso,” he said, “it’s easy to play center forward because the teams don’t know which players they have to focus on.”

“They gave me an easy ball,” Nemeth said. “Probably anyone could finish that.”

Sporting KC will head next to Mexico, taking on Monterrey in the first leg of the Concacaf Champions League semifinal on April 4. They’ll quickly turn around to Cincinnati for an MLS road game on April 7 before returning to Kansas City for the home leg of the CCL semi-final on April 11.

Krisztian Nemeth got a hug from Johnny Russell after scoring his third goal. The pair earned five goals and an assist in the game. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)


Montreal goalkeeper Evan Bush was not happy after giving up his sixth goal of the match. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)


Krisztian Nemeth saluted the Cauldron fan area after scoring his third goal. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)


Even though the snow stopped just before the game, the chill temperatures kept KC fans bundled. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)


Sporting KC forward Gerso Fernandes played the ball across the Montreal goal. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)


Montreal goalkeeper Evan Bush laid out to grab the ball. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)


Gerso Fernandes leapt high to clear goalkeeper Evan Bush (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)


Midfielder Kelyn Rowe signed a jersey for Victory Project participant Matthew Martin. The Victory Project is a collaboration between Sporting KC and Children’s Mercy Hospital that supports children with second cancer diagnoses. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)


Johnny Russell knocked in a shot from the right side to make the score 5-0. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)


Krisztian Nemeth picked his third goal off an assist from Ilie Sanchez in the second half. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)


After a near miss in the first half, Johnny Russell stared at the ball. (Photo copyright 2019 by Brian Turrel)