With a standing-room-only crowd watching and electricity crackling, the host Blue Springs South High School Jaguars put on a basketball clinic Thursday.
A strong team effort sparked the Jaguars to a stinging 70-38 defeat of crosstown rival Blue Springs in the second game of a boy-girl varsity doubleheader.
The Jaguars' “Big Three” – 6-8 Jacob Towler, 6-7 Kevin Puryear, 6-6 Kendall Blanton – clogged up the lane and scored at will while guards K.J. Robinson and Brandon Kilgore directed the offense to perfection.
Examiner Tennis Player of the Year Paul Province even got in on the act – hitting a long-range 3-pointer that created such pandemonium in the South cheering section the bleachers starting shaking and vibrating.
“Please get in Paul's 3-pointer?” asked Robinson, who finished with nine points and a handful of assists. “The biggest basket of the night!”
Many of Province's teammates nodded in agreement.
Province's trey lit up the crowd – and the scoreboard – but most of the damage was done by Puryear (16 points), Blanton (15 points, 5 blocks) and Towler (9 points, 8 boards).
“They are so long, and they just dominated us inside,” Blue Springs coach Adam Jones said after the Wildcats fell to 11-9 and 2-4. “Blanton was really dominating inside – it seemed like he affected every shot we took – and their guards played some great defense, leading our guys inside where their big guys would alter a shot or block it.
“It was a tough locker room after the game because we'd been playing well, and no one likes to lose like this to your big rival.”
While the Wildcats were looking for answers, the seniors for the Class 5 No. 7-ranked Jaguars (17-3, 6-0 Big Six) were soaking in their final regular-season home game against the Wildcats.
“We have the best fans in the world,” Blanton said as he visited with students after the game. “The atmosphere tonight was amazing. Our last home game against Blue Springs, and we get to clear the bench at the end of the game and let everyone get some playing time.”
When asked about his defensive presence, he added, “That's my game. I'm not going to score a lot of points – we have guys who can score on this team. I just want to keep the other team from scoring.”
Towler, who had a dunk and a slick layup with his back to the basket, said the excitement level inside the South gym served as an inspiration to the team.
“When the fans come out like this it's amazing,” Towler said. “We might play them again in district, but this is the last regular-season game and we all wanted to win. We played a great, team game tonight and got everyone involved.”
South led 17-10 after one quarter on the strength of Towler's eight first-quarter points. Kilgore then scored eight of his 13 points in the second quarter and South took a 37-20 lead into halftime.
Puryear scored eight of his 15 points in the third quarter, and the rout was on.
“You look at what the big guys did – offensively and defensively – and you're impressed,” South coach Jimmy Cain said, “but when you look at the contributions our guards made, you realize we played a solid overall team game.
“And we were able to do it in front of a great crowd. They had a lot of kids, we had a lot of kids and it was just one of those nights you want to savor and enjoy.”
Blue Springs did not have a player in double figures. Kirk Finley led the Wildcats with eight points.