Coach Mike Hilbert's underdog Broncos were kicking up their heels Tuesday night at Lee's Summit North High School, where No. 7-ranked Blue Springs South found itself in a 30-all tie at the half.
That's when Jaguars coach Jimmy Cain challenged his team, and boy, did they respond.
Kevin Puryear scored 12 of his game-high 23 points in the third quarter while grabbing five of his game-best 11 rebounds to lead South to a 64-51 Suburban Big Six victory.
South improved to a perfect 5-0 in conference action and 16-3 overall.
“They're the top team in Kansas City, and as far as I'm concerned, the top team in the state,” Hilbert said after his team fell to 8-11 and 2-3. “I challenged my guys before the game. I wanted them to come out and play with the maturity we've seen this season, and for a half they were able to do it. Actually, they were able to do it for most of the game, but they are so big and Kevin Puryear is such a great all-around player, they found a way to get the win.
“But I'm so proud of my guys. They gave it everything they had.”
Puryear and teammate Kendall Blanton agreed that the Broncos were primed for the Jaguars.
“Coach told us this was going to be a tough road game,” said Puryear, the 6-foot-7 junior forward. “And it was. They played so hard the whole game, they really impressed me. You watch them play – like they did tonight – and you can't believe they have a losing record.
“If they keep playing the rest of the season like they did tonight, they are going to be tough to beat.”
Blanton, a 6-8 senior who has signed to play football at the University of Missouri, added, “They played us hard and we had to come out and play better in the second half. And we were able to do that. We finally got into an offensive rhythm, got Kevin the ball and were able to come back home with a win.”
Sophomore guard K.J. Robinson opened the third period with a 3-pointer, starting an 8-0 Jaguar run from which the Broncos could never quite recover. They padded that run to 11-3 with Puryear hitting back-to-back 3-pointers.
“When the big man (Puryear) hits back-to-back 3s like that, it makes it tough,” Hilbert said. “He and Blanton can dominate inside, then he goes out and hits those 3s.”
North's Anthony Lupardus, who had two 3-pointers and 10 points, was impressed with Puryear.
“You see a big guy ready to take a shot at a 3, and then you notice it's Kevin and you have to rush over there to play defense,” Lupardus said. “I got there too late a couple of times. He can hit a basket from anywhere on the court. He was scoring from everywhere in the third quarter.”
The Broncos sank seven 3-pointers to keep the game close, and managed the tie at halftime thanks to all-around hustle and strong defense.
“We've been a good defensive perimeter team, but we weren't tonight – especially in the first half,” Cain said. “Give Mike and his kids all the credit. I told our guys they had to come over here and play tough, and they know they were in a game.
“No one gets his team better prepared than Mike, and I was impressed with all aspects of their game tonight. We finally got into an offensive rhythm in the second half, and Kevin was on fire in the third period.”
Brandon Kilgore finished with 16 points for the Jaguars, while Robinson and Blanton each finished with eight and Jacob Towler, who had two second-quarter dunks, added six.
Caleb Berry scored 17 points and Zach Lamb added 12 to pace the Broncos.