Blue Springs South lived up to all its preseason hype – and then some – as the Jaguars claimed a 90-58 victory at Truman Tuesday night.
South used a 31-7 first-quarter as a springboard to a season-opening win over a determined Patriot squad that refused to cave, even after that disastrous start.
“Billy (Guinnee) has such a great program at Truman, and even though we were leading (46-22) at the half, I told our guys to be a ready for a real fight in the third quarter,” South coach Jimmy Cain said. “Give Truman a lot of credit. They gave us all we could handle in the third quarter.”
Truman used Reid Titus' 10 points and six from Dewayne Thornton to score 23 points after the break. That was one point more than they scored in the entire first half.
“It was all about pride,” said Thornton, who led the Patriots with 15 points and drew praise from Cain for leading the Truman second-half comeback. “I'm not saying we were intimidated the first quarter, but we had a lot of JV guys out there who were playing varsity for the first time.
“It took them a while to figure out how much faster and how much better varsity basketball is. This isn't no little kids' game; this is the real deal.”
The Jaguars, who feature 6-foot-7 junior forward Kevin Puryear, one of the most recruited players in the metro area, and 6-8 Kendall Blanton and Jacob Towler certainly proved they were the real deal.
Towler came off the bench to lead the Jaguars with 20 points, while Puryear added 17 and Blanton seven.
Sophomore guard K.J. Robinson nearly stole the thunder from his much taller teammates as he proved he could run the offense and get the ball to the big men inside while scoring 12 points. Junior guard Brandon Kilgore added 15 for the explosive South offense.
“We lost a lot when Justin (Pitts, The Examiner's 2012-13 Player of the Year) and Carl (Martin) graduated, but what about K.J.'s first varsity game?” asked Cain. “He played against Carl and Justin last year in practice, so he knew what to expect at this level.”
Robinson was pleased with his performance, but wanted to talk about the play of his teammates.
“Playing against Justin and Carl, the two best guards in the area last year, in practice made me a better player and got me ready for this season,” Robinson said, smiling. “But tonight was a great team effort. Brandon was great in the backcourt and our big men got the job done.
“It's just our first game, but this win really gets me excited for the rest of the season.”
While Puryear and Blanton received much of the preseason attention, Towler made an immediate impact off the bench.
“Whatever Coach Cain needs, I'm there,” said Towler, whose sister Julia is a member of the undefeated University of Missouri volleyball team. “Our guards did a great job getting the ball to the open man, and it's tough to guard everyone because we have to many players who can score.
“I'll be honest with you, Truman really surprised me the second half. They could have given up, but they came out and played with a lot of intensity. That shows me how much the game means to them, and I give them a lot of credit for playing as hard as they did in the second half.”
Titus finished with 13 points as did Michael Hernandez, who hit three 3-pointers for the Patriots.