Kalani Purcell’s impressive two-year run at Hutchinson Community College received a crowning achievement on Tuesday after she was named an NJCAA Division I Women’s Basketball first-team All-American.
Now the most decorated player in Blue Dragon women’s basketball history, Purcell led the 2014-15 Blue Dragons to a 36-1 record, a fifth-straight Jayhawk West championship, a fourth-consecutive Region VI Tournament title and a berth in the NJCAA Tournament national championship game for the second-straight season.
Purcell is the program’s second first-team All-American, joining Jackie Patterson. She is the third two-time All-American in team history. Heather Robben and Patterson are the others. Purcell was an honorable mention NJCAA All-America selection as a freshman.
Along the way, the 6-foot-2 forward from Hamilton, New Zealand re-wrote the Blue Dragon women’s basketball record book. She owns 15 total Blue Dragon records (eight career, five single-season and two single-game).
In addition to being a two-time NJCAA All-American, the future BYU Cougar was a two-time first-team all-Jayhawk West and all-Region VI selection, the 2014 Jayhawk West Freshman of the Year, 2015 Jayhawk West Most Valuable Player, a two-time NJCAA Tournament All-Tournament selection, a two-time Region VI Tournament All-Tournament selection and the 2015 Region VI Tournament MVP.
In her two-year Blue Dragon career, Purcell and the 2015 sophomores achieved a 71-2 record, both losses coming in the national championship game. She helped post 36 of an on-going 117-game Sports Arena winning streak. Purcell led the charge to the 2015 Blue Dragons breaking five team records and tying three others.
Purcell set single-season records for points scored (684), total field goals (275), total rebounds (443), rebounding average (12.0) and double-doubles (27) this season. She also posted the program’s first-ever triple-double with 19 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists against Coffeyville in November.
Purcell averaged 18.5 points and shot 57.1 percent from the field. She improved greatly from the free-throw line at 73.0 percent this season. Purcell led the league with 187 assists and 130 steals. She blocked 49 shots.
She had a career-high 32 points against Hesston College in November, which tied for the 12th most points in a game in team history. She also had 17 games of 20 or more points, 10 games of 15 or more rebounds, 22 games of five or more assists and 10 games of five or more steals.
Purcell is now the program’s career leader in points scored (1,176), total field goals (459), field-goal attempts (855), rebounds (855), rebound average (11.2), total steals (258), blocked shots (97) and double-doubles (45).
(HCC Sports Information)
Kalani Purcell statistical rankings at HCC
Career Total or percentage Rank
Points scored 1,176 1
Scoring average 16.1 6
Total field goals 459 1
Field goals attempted 855 1
Field-goal percentage 54.9 5
Total free throws 226 6
Free throws attempted 340 5
Total rebounds 814 1
Rebound average 11.2 1
Total assists 322 T2
Total steals 258 1
Blocked shots 97 1
Double-doubles 45 1
Single season Total or percentage Rank
Points scored 684 1
Scoring average 18.5 5
Total field goals 275 1
Field goals attempted 482 2
Field-goal percentage 57.1 5
Total free throws 130 7
Free throws attempted 178 9
Total rebounds 443 1
Rebound average 12.0 1
Total assists 187 2
Total steals 130 2
Blocked shots 49 T2
Double-doubles 27 1
Single game Total Rank
Points scored 32 (vs. Hesston) T12
Rebounds 22 (vs. Barton) 1
Assists 10 (vs. Coffevyille) 3
Steals 9 (vs. S. Georgia Tech) T1
Freshman Bashier Ahmed became the 28th Hutchinson Community College men’s basketball player to be named NJCAA All-American on Tuesday.
Ahmed, a 6-foot-6 freshman guard from the Bronx, New York, earned All-American honorable mention status. He is the fourth player in the Steve Eck era to be named to the NJCAA All-America Team.
Named the 2015 Jayhawk West Freshman of the Year, the first-team all-league and all-Region VI player, Ahmed was one of the main cogs that helped the Blue Dragons capture its 20th Region VI Tournament championship and an 18th appearance in the NJCAA Tournament. The Blue Dragons went 1-1, reaching the national quarterfinals for the first time since 1994.
Ahmed finished with 585 points, the sixth-most points scored by a true Blue Dragon freshman in team history. His 16.3 point scoring average tied for ninth best by a Hutchinson freshman.
Ahmed hit 45.5 percent from the floor and had a team-high 47 3-point goals, shooting 36.4 percent from long range. Ahmed was Hutchinson’s second-leading rebounder at 7.08 boards per game. His freshman total of 255 rebounds was eighth best by an HCC freshman.
The Blue Dragon guard posted eight double-doubles this season. He had a career-high 36 points and 12 rebounds in a road victory at Pratt where he shot 13 of 20 from the field, knocking down 4 of 6 from 3-point range.
Ahmed had eight games of 20 or more points and nine games of 10 or more rebounds. He had a season high of 15 rebounds against Colby.
Twice this season, Ahmed has been named the Jayhawk Conference men’s basketball Player of the Week.
In the season-opening Quarterback Classic, the 6-foot-7 Ahmed averaged 14.0 points and 11.0 rebounds in two games played. Ahmed shot 43.5 percent and averaged 3.0 steals, 2.5 assists and 1.0 blocks per game. Then on Jan. 27, Ahmed scored a career high, had two double-doubles and hit the game-winning shot to earn his second weekly honor.
Ahmed was one of three Jayhawk Conference players to earn All-America status this season. Barton’s Ahmad Walker was second team and Coffeyville’s Darrion Strong was third team.
(HCC Sports Information)
SALINA – A relentless Chipola defense overpowered the Hutchinson Community College women’s basketball team over the first 16 minutes of the first half and the whole was too big to climb out of in the 2015 NJCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament championship game.
Held to just three field goals over the first 17 minutes of the game, Hutchinson ultimately fell behind by as many as 15 points and lost to Chipola 54-46 at Salina’s Bicentennial Center.
Hutchinson ends its season at 36-1 and finishes as the national runner-up for the second-straight year and for the third time in four seasons. Chipola (34-1) wins its first national championship.
Hutchinson’s five two-year sophomores – Kalani Purcell, Alyx Bloom, Shakira Harding, Jessica Daughhetee and Sydney Benoit – finish their Blue Dragon careers with a stellar 71-2 record. The only two losses the group suffered were in the national championship game.
Bloom led Hutchinson with 14 points, scoring 10 points after halftime. Purcell closed out her career with her 45th career double-double. Scoring just one point in the first half, Purcell finished with 11 points, 19 rebounds, six assists and three blocked shots. Purcell picked up her sixth career statistical record, surpassing Chelsea Small for the Blue Dragons’ career blocked shots record with 94.
Purcell and Cynthia Petke were named to the All-Tournament Team.
Sueterrica Key led all scorers with 20 points to pace Chipola. She hit 3 of 10 from 3-point range. Tournament MVP Evelyn Akhator had 10 points and 14 rebounds. Kendra Martin also finished with 10 points, but hit two decisive shots that sealed the Blue Dragons’ fate.
HCC trailed 24-17 at halftime and after a quick 8-0 run by Chipola to start the second half; the Blue Dragons trailed 32-17 with 18:19 to play in the 2nd half. The Dragons finally found some offensive success and chipped away at the deficit, cutting the lead to 39-33 after a Clemence LeFebvre hoop with 7:11 to go.
Out of the timeout, Martin drained back-to-back 3-pointers and Rosemarie Julien added a third to give Chipola a 48-35 lead with 4:10 to play.
Chipola held Hutchinson to three field goals over the first 17 minutes of the game and 5 of 23 in the first half. For the game, the Blue Dragons shot 34.6 percent (18 of 52), hitting 3 of 15 from 3-point range and 7 of 9 from the foul line.
HCC actually out-shot and out-rebounded Chipola. The Indians shot 19 of 60 (31.7 percent), but hit 9 of 27 from 3-point range.
(HCC Sports Information)
For the third time in four seasons, the Hutchinson Community College women’s basketball team will be playing for a national championship.
The No. 1-ranked Blue Dragons will meet No. 2 Chipola College in the 2015 NJCAA Division I Women’s National Tournament championship game at 7 p.m. on Saturday in Salina’s Bicentennial Center
The game will be broadcast live by Blue Dragon flagship group Eagle Communications on KHMY-FM (93.1) beginning at 6:50 p.m. The game will also be streamed live by NJCAATV.com also beginning at 6:50 p.m.
No. 1 Hutchinson (36-0) makes its third title game appearance in team history. HCC met Trinity Valley in the 2012 and 2014 championship games, dropping both to the Cardinals during their three-year reign as national champion.
Game 37: No. 1 Hutchinson Blue Dragons vs. No. 2 Chipola College Indians
NJCAA Tournament Championship Game
When: Saturday, March 21, 2015
Game Time: 7 p.m.
Site: Bicentennial Center, Salina, KS
Live Radio: KHMY-FM (93.1), 6:50 p.m.
Live Video: NJCAATV.com, 6:50 p.m.
Live Stats: Blue Dragon Sports Network
HUTCHINSON BLUE DRAGONS
2014-15 Record: 36-0
2015 Jayhawk West Record: 16-0
NJCAA National Rank: No. 1
Head Coach: John Ontjes, 8th season
CHIOPOLA COLLEGE INDIANS
2014-15 Record: 33-1
2015 Conference Record: 11-1
NJCAA National Rank: No. 62
Head Coach: Greg Franklin, 3rd year
Chipola (33-1) will make its first championship game appearance. The Indians’ only loss this season came to Northwest Florida State, 67-54 on Jan. 17. Chipola has since reeled off 13 consecutive victories.
Saturday’s championship game will feature the two leading candidates for NJCAA Division I National Player of the Year in Hutchinson’s Kalani Purcell and Chipola’s Evelyn Akhator.
Purcell comes into the game as HCC’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder. Her numbers are massive at 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 3.5 steals per game while shooting 57.9 percent. She has 26 double-doubles and one triple double this season.
Akhator is a 6-3 sophomore post player. She is sixth in the nation in scoring at 21.6 points per game and leads the NJCAA in rebounding with an average of 16.8 boards per contest. Akhator has 34 double-doubles.
The Blue Dragons had a semifinal war on Friday, outlasting No. 6 Walters State 63-55. Freshman Cynthia Petke put the Blue Dragons on her back late, making three huge plays in three possessions, including a drive to the hoop for a critical score with the shot clock running out that gave HCC a four-point lead. The Blue Dragons held Walters State scoreless for the final 2:42 in a game-clinching 8-0 run.
Chipola dethroned three-time defending champion Trinity Valley in the second semifinal on Friday, defeating the Cardinals 62-48. Sueterrica Key led the Indians with 16 points.
Like Friday’s semifinal, Saturday’s matchup will have two of the top five defensive teams in the nation. HCC is No. 5 in scoring defense at 49.4 points per game. Chipola is No. 3, allowing 43.3 points per contest.
(HCC Sports Information)
SALINA – With an average winning margin of 31.2 points this season, times that the Hutchinson Community College women’s basketball team has had to grind out possessions late in games to secure victories have been few.
Led by freshman Cynthia Petke down the stretch, the No. 1-ranked Blue Dragons grinded their way into a shot at a national championship on Saturday after a 63-55 victory over No. 6 Walter State in the first national semifinal of the 2015 NJCAA Women’s Division I National Tournament at Salina’s Bicentennial Center.
The 36-0 Blue Dragons reach the national championship game for the second-straight year and for the third time in four seasons. Top-seeded Hutchinson will meet No. 2 seed Chipola College (33-1) at 7 p.m. on Saturday as the Blue Dragons will bid for the program’s first national title.
With two of the nation’s top five defenses on display on Friday, nothing came easy for Hutchinson or Walters State. The Blue Dragons held the Lady Senators 19 points under its 74 point scoring average. HCC was held 18 points under its 81 point scoring average.
With the low-possession game coming down to its final few possessions, Petke made three huge plays that helped Hutchinson advance to Saturday’s championship game.
After Kalani Purcell scored to give HCC a 57-55 lead with 2:25 to play, the Blue Dragons got a defensive stop and called a timeout. Out of the timeout with the shot clock running down, Petke was 24 feet from the basket with few options. She decided to drive to the basket and scored with 1:28 to play to give HCC a 59-55 lead.
“I usually don’t (drive to the hoop),” said Petke, who had her 18th double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 rebounds. “Coach Ontjes always talks about you creating something for you or your teammate. I thought that was a moment to create something. I saw a gap and decided to go.”
On Walters State’s next possession, Kayonica Tate had a lane to the basket, but Petke stepped in and stole the ball for another defensive stop. Petke’s final decisive play came when she fought for an offensive rebound after a Purcell missed basket. That offensive board led to two Alyx Bloom free throws and a six-point lead with 37.7 seconds to play.
“Cynthia made some really crucial plays,” said HCC head coach John Ontjes, whose team closed the game on a 8-0 run and held Walters State scoreless for the final 2 minutes, 42 seconds of the game.
Hutchinson broke two significant team records and tied three others in Friday’s victory.
The 2014-15 Blue Dragons broke the program record for points scored (2,896) and total rebounds (1,676) for a season. Hutchinson also tied team records for wins in a season (36), longest winning streak (36) and best start to a season (36-0).
Purcell led the Blue Dragons with 21 points and eight rebounds on 8 of 16 shooting, including 5 of 7 from the free-throw line. Bloom was a perfect 6 of 6 from the free-throw line and finished with 11 points and three assists. Shakira Harding had two 3-pointers and finished with eight points.
The Blue Dragons had a season-low 21 field goals on just 45 attempts (46.7 percent). HCC was 3 of 6 from the 3-point line and 18 of 29 from the free-throw line. HCC owned a 36-28 rebounding advantage, but had to overcome 21 turnovers.
Jephany Brown had a huge second half for Walters State (32-3), which will play Trinity Valley in Saturday’s consolation game at 5 p.m. scored 19 of her game-high 22 points in the second half, sinking four 3-point goals. ArJae Saunders had 18 points.
Walters State was just the third team this season to shoot better than 40 percent, hitting 23 of 55 shots (41.9 percent), hitting 4 of 10 from 3-point range and 5 of 6 from the foul line. The Lady Senators had 15 turnovers.
Harding’s first 3-pointer of the game gave Hutchinson an early 8-2 lead. A Clemence LeFebvre basket at the 14:03 mark bumped the lead to eight at 13-5. Walters State put together a 10-2 run to knot the game at 15-15 on an Ant’Tresia Patton’s score with 9:51 to play.
The Blue Dragons had to play most of the final 9:35 of the opening half without Purcell, who had two personal fouls assessed. She left the game with the score tied at 15-all. The Blue Dragons went without a field goal for better than 7 minutes of the first half, but never relinquished the lead. Petke finally broke the field-goal drought with a three-point play at the 8:59 mark to build an 18-15 lead. Petke scored six points the final minutes of the opening half.
“I was ready to do anything for my team to win,” Petke said. “When Kalani picked up her second foul, everybody was down and I thought I had to do something for the team.”
“It’s been like that the whole season,” Purcell said. “When I’ve gotten foul trouble, she would step up her game and she stepped up her whole game tonight and carried us to the win.”
The Dragons surged late with a 9- 0 run, building 30-20 lead after a LeFebvre basket with 1:03 to play. Walters State scored the final four points of the half to cut the HCC lead to 30-24 at halftime.
Harding dropped her second 3-pointer of the game to open the second half and push the Blue Dragon lead to nine points, but the second half quickly became about HCC turnovers and Walters State’s Brown. HCC had nine second-half turnovers that led to 12 Lady Senator points.
Held to three points in the first half, Brown hit her first four 3-point attempts of the second half, the fourth trey tied the game at 55-all with 2:42 to play. Walters State was never able to hold a lead, but forced five ties.
The Blue Dragons built a 47-39 lead with 10:03 to play when Purcell caught a perfectly placed lob pass from Par McNair and scored. The Lady Senators went on a 10-2 run to tie the game at 52 on two Sanders free throws.
A Bloom transition layup off a LeFebvre steal helped HCC built a 52-49 lead, but Brown answered with a 3-pointer at the 4:15 mark to tie the game. Purcell then got two offensive rebounds before converting a three-point play after getting fouled with 3:00 to go to hand HCC a 55-52 lead, but Brown hurt again answered for Walters State with her fourth 3-pointer to tie the game at 55-all with 2:42 to play.
GAME NOTES – The 2014-15 sophomores moved into a second-place tie for most wins by a sophomore class, matching the 2014 sophomores with 71 wins and a 71-1 record. … HCC is 16-7 in six NJCAA Tournament appearances, going 3-2 in the semifinal round. … HCC is now 7-0 vs. nationally ranked teams. … The Blue Dragons moved up to No. 4 on the made field goals list with 540. … Cynthia Petke moved up to No. six in single-season scoring (550 points) and is tied for sixth in single-season field goals (217). … Clemence LeFebvre moved up to No. 14 on the season scoring list (488 points). … Kalani Purcell moved up to No. 4 in single-season assists (181) and fifth in single-season blocks at 46). … Purcell ties her freshman season total of steals at 124, which ranks No. 2 in team history.
(HCC Sports Information)
at Friends JV (DHL 7/7)
vs. Dodge City (DH: 7/9)
vs. Dodge City
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