By: Greta Klein
Staff writer

After last season’s 23-8 finish, and the season ending in the Region 6 quarterfinals to Coffeyville, the Hutchinson Community College women’s basketball team was unranked at the start of this season.

Now undefeated, after a 24-0 start to this season, the Blue Dragons have grabbed the nation’s attention. 

For the first time in 11 years, the Blue Dragons are ranked No. 1 in the NJCAA.

“Since day one of the season, we have battled and concentrated to get better,” Blue Dragons coach John Ontjes said. “What is special about this team is that they do not care about the rankings, they care about making each other better. With that being the focal point and initiative this team has, we have been able to accomplish this feat as a team.”

Since the end of last season, the Blue Dragons went to work, and got better. One of the key players for this season is sophomore guard Journey Armstead.

Armstead has been a pivotal player for this Hutchinson team, collecting 10.8 points per game, while creating 4.8 assists a game. Armstead is currently fifth in the Jayhawk Conference in assists per game.

“My goal was to get in the gym and get better there. During the season that has carried over, and I look to have good workouts,” Armstead said. “During the season schedule, I have looked to be a great leader on the court and in the weight room.”

The guard out of Sand Springs, Okla. has increased her production in every category from last season except the free throw line. For Armstead this season was huge in her career, and for this team.

“Honestly, being a good point guard on any team is to be able to create for others,” Armstead said. “Then if the ball comes to me, being able to pass it and find space for my teammates has been what helps us this season.”

As this season has continued to roll in the Blue Dragons favor, Ontjes has expressed his gratitude for Armstead, and what she does for the Blue Dragons offense.

“Journey has matured from year one to year two,” Ontjes said. “She’s motivated, determined and you can’t have a great team unless you have a great point guard.”

Another big player for Hutchinson this season is freshman Kiki Smith. Smith has been awarded the Jayhawk Conference’s best performer for three weeks of the season.

In her first season with the Blue Dragons, Smith is fourth in the Jayhawk Conference in scoring (17.7 ppg), fifth in field goal percentage (53.9%), fifth in 3-point percentage (38.1%), and fifth in free throw percentage (80%).

“She’s a big part of what we’ve accomplished so far this season,” Ontjes said. “Our team understands that, but everybody has an important role. Kiki’s role is to make baskets and knock down open shots.”

The former Topeka High standout has shined when the lights have been on her, and was recently awarded a national player of the week award from the NJCAA.

While Ontjes talked about Smith, he reiterated that everyone is good on this Hutchinson team. The Blue Dragons were able to accomplish the 24-0 record as a team and everyone fills their role as they should.

This season has rolled in the Blue Dragons favor as they only have seven games left in the regular season.

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