Often, when Blue Springs boys basketball coach Adam Jones watches Daniel Parker Jr. attempt a 3-point shot from the top of the key, it goes through the hoop.
When Jones watched the senior forward take Blue Springs’ final shot Tuesday night against visiting Raymore-Peculiar, it didn’t.
With 3 seconds left in overtime of the Suburban Big Seven meeting, the Wildcats got the ball to Parker in their backcourt while trailing by two. Parker quickly dribbled past the timeline and got to the top of the key, where he attempted a buzzer-beating trey. The ball hit off the front rim and time expired during a 59-57.
“I was proud of the look we got,” Jones said.
Ray-Pec coach Scott Jermain also was impressed with the look. But Jermain wasn’t impressed with Ray-Pec’s defense on the play.
“That was kind of a breakdown on our behalf,” he said. “We let him get back to his right hand.”
Parker was one of two options for the final shot. R.J. Lawrence, who paced Blue Springs with 24 points, was the other.
“Originally, we thought they were going to fall back a little bit, so I could get that screen (for Daniel) open,” Lawrence said. “But they double-teamed me, so I couldn’t really maneuver around that to get Daniel an open shot like we wanted. We tried to make it work.”
Blue Springs’ last gasp followed a layup by Ray-Pec sophomore guard and coach’s son Jordan Jermain with about 4 seconds left that turned out to be the game-winning bucket.
“It was actually kind of a broken play,” the elder Jermain said. “They did a really nice job taking looks away from us, and we said if everything breaks down, we’ve just got to try to get to the rim. And he got to the rim and scored it.”
Entering the fourth quarter, it appeared the Wildcats (7-11, 1-5 league) wouldn’t give the younger Jermain the chance to win it in overtime, let alone need to attempt a buzzer-beating trey. Sparked by their 3-point shooting, they overcame a 23-19 halftime deficit by outscoring the Panthers 19-8 the third quarter.
“We just tried to get the lead, push it a little bit with those threes,” Lawrence said.
But Blue Springs’ 38-31 lead disappeared within the first 2 minutes of the fourth, as Ray-Pec (9-9, 2-2) staged a 7-0 run to tie it. The seesaw quarter ended with the score tied at 48.
A 3-pointer by Parker with 3:13 left in overtime gave him the last of his 15 points – and put the Wildcats ahead 51-50. Trailing 56-51, they staged 6-1 spurt to set the stage for the younger Jermain’s layup and the ill-fated Parker 3-point attempt.
To Jones, that final shot wasn’t responsible for the 59-57 loss. Rather, it came down to a character issue.
“We’re 18 games in the season, and we’re still talking about having heart and playing together and fighting for each other,” he said. “We’re battling some inner personalities a little bit right now, and we’re trying to get better with that.”