Jayla Sample knows how to throw a birthday party.
The Blue Springs High School sophomore guard scored a team-high 15 points on her 16th birthday Thursday night as the Wildcats routed visiting Lee’s Summit 57-24 in a game that was light years away from Monday’s dramatic 43-42 win over Raymore-Peculiar, another Suburban Big Seven foe.
Reggie Kanagawa hit the game-winning jump shot with just four seconds left in Monday's game against the Panthers.
“We needed one like this,” said sophomore Aliyah Bello, who scored a game-high 11 points in the win over the Panthers Monday and added 14 in the mercy-clock win over the Tigers. “Monday night’s game was so exciting, especially when Reggie hit that game-winner. And tonight, we all kept playing hard even though we had the big lead.
“It was a great way to celebrate Jayla’s birthday.”
Veteran Wildcats coach Mark Spigarelli even got in the birthday spirit.
“How about that, balloons and posters? I like that,” a grinning Spigarelli said, as Sample and her family posed for a celebratory photo following the win. “We all have a lot to be happy about.
“We’ve had great senior leadership from Angelica Andrews, Sy’Miah Smith and Reggie, and the sophomores – Aliyah and the birthday girl – have really been playing well. Everyone has really picked up their game. I’m really proud of this team.”
After an 0-6 start, which still confounds Spigarelli, the Wildcats have won five in a row and improved to 6-8 overall and 5-3 in conference play.
“I thought we had a pretty good team this year, and I was really disappointed in our start,” said Spigarelli, “but something finally started to click.
“Those seniors wouldn’t let the younger kids give up. And everyone started playing better. The win Monday night was pretty exciting, and I told the girls tonight to not play down to the level of competition.”
And the Wildcats didn’t as Spigarelli’s team played consistently throughout.
“Lee’s Summit had an off night, and I wanted us to keep playing hard in the second half, the way we did in the first half. And they did, with the exception of a little setback in the third period.”
The Wildcats ran off to a 15-4 first-quarter lead as the Tigers didn’t score until the 1:59 mark when Brooke Benton hit a free throw. Claire Lock added a late 3-pointer and that was it for the Tigers offense.
Blue Springs led 35-13 at the half, 43-23 after three quarters and held the Tigers to one free throw in the final eight minutes, which resulted in a running clock.
Smith added 12 points for the Wildcats. Mikeya House and Lock led the Tigers with six points each.