Eleventh-ranked Labette provided one of the biggest upsets of the season to start Kansas Jayhawk Conference play on Wednesday as the Cardinals ran away from No. 2 Kansas City Kansas, the defending national champions, 79-63 on Wednesday evening.
Angel Williams recorded a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Cardinals, who shot 66.7% in the second half as a team to pour it on the Blue Devils.
Labette never trailed Kansas City Kansas by more than a point and never trailed in the second half. While Labette notched undoubtedly its biggest win of the season, Cardinals head coach Mitch Rolls felt there was more in the tank.
“I’m happy we got the win,” Rolls said, “but we probably only played a quarter-and-a-half of good basketball where we locked in on defense and executed offensively. That’s where we put the game away. It’d be nice to play four quarters like that. But we’ve got to clean things up and be ready for Highland on Saturday.”
Williams’ double-double came against a high-profile matchup as she squared off in the post against Kansas City Kansas forward Kamryn Estell, who came into the game averaging 15.3 points and eight rebounds.
“Every time there’s a big matchup — Kamryn Estell is one of the best bigs in the country — she shows that she’ll rise above,” Rolls said. “She’s actually been in my doghouse the past week. She didn’t practice well. So I’m really proud of coming out and giving us 16 and 10.”
Three players in total reached double figures for the Cardinals — Williams, Diamond Jones (11) and Jessica Martino (10).
“We had a lot of people step up off the bench,” Rolls said. “The fact that we had everybody playing well allowed us to play deep tonight.”
Caroline Hoppock led the Blue Devils with 19 points, while Estell added 14.
Labette’s offensive explosion in the second half came as a result of the Cardinals’ hunt of the paint. Labette led at halftime 31-28 despite shooting 31.6% (12-of-38) from the field.
“We stopped shooting threes in the second half,” Rolls said. “We were settling in the first half. Everybody started getting to the rim and good things happened.”
Kansas City Kansas dropped to 18-2 overall on the season and 0-1 in KJCCC play with the loss. Labette, which won its 13th straight game, improved to 15-3 overall and 1-0 in the conference.
The Cardinals face another top-10 team on Saturday at home as No. 6 Highland comes into Parsons.
“Every year, we get a tough schedule to start out conference play,” Rolls said. “We’re used to this gauntlet. So there’s no time for relaxation. We can’t get comfortable.”
But there’s no question that Wednesday’s win over the defending national champions sets the stage for Labette to establish separation from a loaded pack early.
“We’ve got to take conference games seriously,” Diamond Jones said. “We scouted them really well. I feel like we have the best guards in the conference. We can go at anybody’s necks.”
No. 16 Labette 79, No. 2 Kansas City Kansas 63
Labette: 19 12 21 27 — 79
Kansas City Kansas: 16 12 15 20 — 63
Labette: Kymora Westerfield 9, Jessica Martino 10, Jayla Smith 9, Gift Sampson 6, Diamond Jones 11, Shanice Uwase 5, Denijsha Wilson 9, Jordan Chiles 2, Ariah Powell 2, Angel Williams 16
Kansas City Kansas: Diamond Williams 1, Tiara Earnest 2, Aliya Myers 11, Mercer Roberts 7, Adoreya Williams 2, Destiny Zamudia 5, Caroline Hoppock 10, Shanea Dinwiddie 2, Kamryn Estell 14