The Blue Springs South girls basketball team discovered that defensive intensity, plus a strong inside-out offensive game, results in big wins.
The Jaguars held visiting Pleasant Hill to just eight second-half points while Remy Davenport rained down 3-pointers and Jolene Williams took care of business in the paint, leading South to a 62-24 victory over the Chicks in the semifinals of the McDonald's Tournament Wednesday night at Blue Springs South.
“We can play a lot better defense – and we will,” South coach Brad Oyler said after his team advanced to the championship game of the tournament at 5:15 p.m. Saturday at Blue Springs High School. South (4-0) will play Columbia Hickman in the title game.
“But it's like I told our girls, we played well tonight, but don't be satisfied. We talked about learning how to play, how to respond, in games like this – games that will get us in championship games. If we want other teams to respect us, we have to earn their respect, and I think we did that tonight.”
Williams scored the first six points of the game, all in the paint, with two layups coming off steals.
“We just took what they gave us,” said Williams, who finished with 11 points. “Coach told us good things happen when you play strong defense, and a lot of good things happened tonight.
“Tonight, it was all about hustle. We weren't going to let them outhustle or outwork us.”
The Jaguars hit nine 3-pointers in the game, with Davenport putting on a clinic in the second period. She hit four of five treys and finished the night with a game-high 18 points.
“Shooting the threes wasn't by design,” Davenport said, “I guess I was just feeling it in the second period. The one thing we talked about was staying aggressive on defense, and we really did that, especially in the second half.”
For one period, the game was close as the Jaguars held a 16-12 lead after the first quarter. Davenport then scored 14 points in the second quarter and South took a 35-16 lead into the half.
“At halftime, we just talked about maintaining our aggressive defensive play,” Davenport said. “We came out strong in the third period and held them to six points and got the running clock for the fourth quarter.”
Shannon Hughes finished with nine points, and Brooke Neal added eight.
Rachel Schick led the Chicks with eight points.