It’s been Rockhurst and Blue Springs South facing off for the boys title the past two years at the Blue Springs South/Blue Springs McDonald’s Tournament.
The two will meet again Thursday, but this time in the consolation bracket after an interesting opening round Tuesday at Blue Springs High School. Truman started the day by pulling away from defending Class 5 state champion Rockhurst 75-57, while defending tournament champion South came up on the short end of a 68-65 thriller against Park Hill in the last of four games.
In the third game, Blue Springs fell 72-62 to Jefferson City and will play Kansas City (Kan.) Schlagle in the consolation bracket at 4 p.m. Thursday on its home floor.
Park Hill’s margin of victory came when Landry Shamet, with Briley Moore-McKinney’s hand in his view, drained a step-back 3-pointer with three seconds left, breaking the game’s 10th tie.
South star forward Kevin Puryear got a good look before the buzzer, a running but lightly defended shot from half court, but it didn’t get the magical bank off the glass.
“They outplayed us; they deserved to win,” South coach Jimmy Cain said after his team fell to 1-1. “They were more prepared and defended better.
“They gave us a tough game last year and had a lot of guys back. We knew we’d be in for a dogfight.”
The teams were tied at 32 at halftime and at 43 heading into the fourth, and the action only heated up as Park Hill (2-0) shot 9 of 12 in the period, including 5 of 7 on 3-pointers, while South clicked for 8 of 10, with sub Thomas Abarca hitting all three of his long-range attempts.
Abarca’s last trey gave the Jaguars their last lead at 64-61. Park Hill’s Louis Reinmiller scored down low on the next possession and after a timeout, Shamet turned a Jaguar turnover into a trip to the free-throw line, where he made both attempts with 1:26 left.
Puryear missed the first of a one-and-one at the other end, but Moore-McKinney grabbed the offensive rebound, resulting in a Breandon Kilgore trip to the line, where he split of pair of free throws to tie the game with 57 seconds left.
Park Hill, which started the second quarter with a 9-0 run for a 25-18 lead only to have South respond with a 14-4 run before halftime, bled the clock to set up Shamet’s winner.
“We made some mini-runs,” Cain said, “but we’ve got to do a better job of handling adversity, and that’s on me and the entire team.”
Page 2 of 3 - Puryear tallied 19 points and eight rebounds to lead South, while Abarca hit five 3-pointers for all of his 15 points. Moore-McKinney chipped in nine points and Kendall Blanton had a pair of blocks and snared 10 rebounds.
Shamet matched Puryear’s 19 points, while Reinmiller and Kenny McConnell netted 15 apiece. Park Hill tempered South’s 32-20 rebounding advantage by committing just seven turnovers to the Jaguars’ 13 and hitting 12 of 25 from behind the 3-point arc.
• The Trojans earned a 7 p.m. Thursday semifinal meeting with Truman (1-2), which was tied 34-all with Rockhurst at halftime before limiting the Hawklets to just five points in the third. The Patriots took a 48-39 lead into halftime and never let the Hawklets (2-1) threaten.
Reid Titus racked up 24 points to lead Truman, including a 15-of-16 effort at the foul line. Point guard Michael Hernandez scored all but two of his 20 points in the second half, hitting 6 of 7 at the foul line in the process. Dewayne Thornton also reached double figures for the Patriots with 12.
“We came out and played really good in the third quarter,” Truman coach Billy Guinnee said. “And once we got the lead, we played the way you’re supposed to when you have a lead.
“The shots you take in the first quarter aren’t necessarily the shots taken when you have a lead. Another big thing was hitting free throws.”
Lance Boehm had 12 points and Cartier Dean 11 for Rockhurst, which returned just one letter winner (Dean) from last season. Given that, and the fact longtime assistant Pete Campbell has replaced the retired Mark Nusbaum as head coach, Guinnee knew that beating the defending champ still held meaning for the Patriots.
“It’s always intimidating to play Rockhurst,” he said. “They’re kind of like us; they’re going to have to feel their way through the beginning of the season.”
• Blue Springs (1-1) went back and forth with Jefferson City (2-1) in the first half, but the Jays claimed a 35-33 halftime lead on Jake White’s easy buzzer-beating putback. After Brian Armstrong’s putback answered an opening steal and dunk by the Jays’ O.G. Anunoby in the third, Jefferson City put together a 12-0 run to gain control for good.
The Wildcats were flummoxed by the Jays’ 2-3 zone, committing five turnovers and shooting 2 of 9 in the third quarter, and Blue Springs coach Adam Jones said the end-of-half putback showed the Wildcats still are trying to rise above mediocrity.
“We spend time every day in practice talking about playing to the buzzer,” he said. “That’s a perfect example of what you can’t allow.
Page 3 of 3 - “We got a little lackadaisical on offense. When you do that against a zone, you’re done. We never did find a way to attack it until the last three minutes, and by then it’s too late.”
Twice in the fourth quarter Blue Springs drew within seven on a Darius Vaughn 3-pointer, and Kirk Finley’s pull-up jumper with 1:15 left made it 64-59, but Jefferson City made 16 of 20 free throws in the fourth quarter to keep the Wildcats at bay.
Finley had 17 points and six rebounds, Armstrong 14 points, Vaughn 13 points and Cody Isabel eight points and nine rebounds for Blue Springs.
Jefferson City had four in double figures, including Harold Robertson’s 16 points, but Anunoby’s 25 points and 14 rebounds, along with four blocks and three steals, made for the day’s best performance. The 6-foot-6 junior hit three 3-pointers, and he threw down a dunk for the opening basket in each quarter.
“He’s tough to defend, and he’s a force on defense,” Jones said of Anunoby. “The shots he doesn’t block, he can alter. He kind of tests your manhood.”
Columbian Hickman routed Schlagle 96-45 in Tuesday’s second game.