Brad Oyler said there’s no doubt the Blue Springs South girls basketball team ended the Blue Springs South/Blue Springs McDonald’s Tournament as a better squad than it entered.
The coach’s assessment came even after the Jaguars suffered their first loss of the season in Saturday’s championship game at Blue Springs High School, 74-61 to unbeaten Columbia Hickman. Both teams came in with a 4-0 record.
“This was a good learning experience in this game,” Oyler said. “We’re getting close; we’re just not quite there yet.”
Hickman, which survived overtime Wednesday against Blue Springs to advance to the finals, led 33-26 at halftime and stretched the advantage to 53-39 to start the fourth quarter. South sliced the margin down to three in the final minutes, but Hickman’s Jordan Matthews earned back-to-back trips to the free-throw line – sinking a pair both times – while in between the Jaguars missed a shot.
The Kewpies attempted 28 free throws to the Jaguars’ 13. Matthews made 11 of them, including a 10-of-10 effort in the fourth quarter, on her way to a game-high 20 points.
“We fouled her and we didn’t want to foul her, and she made free throws,” Oyler said of the key late possessions. “We’ve got to learn how to win these games. We gave up some offensive rebounds and missed some shots early on.
“They were a physical team. That’s something we want to become.”
Emily Miller’s 17 points and Kendahl Adams’ 13 backed Matthews for the Kewpies.
Cloe Lane netted 19 points and Tiffany Davenport 13 for the Jaguars, each hitting three 3-pointers. Remy Davenport scored all nine of her points in the second half, and Shannon Hughes chipped in six points.
“We had some people in the fourth quarter hit some big shots to get us back in the game,” Oyler said. “That showed the heart of the champion; we just couldn’t get it done.”
BLUE SPRINGS 40, PLEASANT HILL 22: After a defensive effort against Hickman in the semifinals that coach Mark Spigarelli rated near the bottom of his chart, Blue Springs bounced back in the Saturday’s third-place game at the McDonald’s Tournament.
The host Wildcats (2-3) led just 6-3 after one quarter but continued their vice-grip defense and slowly pulled away – a good bounce-back, according to Spigarelli said.
“Both teams struggled shooting the ball in the first half,” he said. “I don’t think the ball got in the paint as much, as the score reflects that. I thought we played with more intensity.”
Jasmine Tauai scored 11 points, Aliyah Lee 10 and Morgan Hensley six for Blue Springs. Junior center Morgan McMahan scored four points, but Spigarelli said her mere presence was the biggest boost after she crashed into the wall trying to save a rebound and missed the last 15 minutes against Hickman. Despite a bruising that required an ice pack afterward, McMahan played 31 of 32 minutes Saturday.
“That set a nice tone as far as toughness,” Spigarelli said. “Morgan Hensley also had a nice game, and we played without (starting guard) Madison Sykes.”
Rachel Schick’s 12 points led Pleasant Hill, which made just eight field goals.
JEFFERSON CITY 75, TRUMAN 65: Truman rallied from an eight-point deficit to forge a 32-all halftime tie, but the Patriots couldn’t keep pace in the second half of Saturday’s third-place game at of the McDonald’s Tournament at Blue Springs.
Sophomore guard Reid Titus poured in 12 of his game-high 25 points in the second quarter for Truman (1-4), while senior point guard Michael Hernandez tallied 12 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter. Dewayne Thornton added nine.
Jefferson City (3-2) owned a slim 48-46 lead entering the fourth before O.G. Anunoby scored 13 of his 22 points. Darion Jones added 19 points for the Jays.
In the boys championship game Saturday night, Columbia Hickman overcame a 25-20 halftime deficit to upend Park Hill 57-48. Park Hill had upset Blue Springs South in the first round and outlasted Truman in overtime in the semifinals.