Jared Ravencamp came up big again against his rival.
In a marquee matchup that lived up to the hype, the senior guard led a fourth-quarter charge that helped his Blue Springs South Jaguars sweep aside the rival Blue Springs Wildcats 67-57 in a Class 5 District 9 semifinal victory that was much, much closer than the final score might indicate.
With 3:53 left in the game, South’s Ethan Swanegan hit a long 3-pointer to knot the score at 52-all. Coach Jimmy Cain’s Jaguars then showed great patience, as they took valuable seconds off the clock that allowed Ravencamp to switch into hero mode again as he led South to its third consecutive win over the Wildcats.
At 2:40 he was fouled and hit one of two free throws to give the Jaguars a 53-52 lead they never relinquished.
He followed with a short jumper at 2:13 that resulted in a 55-52 advantage. After Jack Gillig drilled a 15-foot jumper, Ravencamp stole the ball at midcourt, passed it to Gillig, who was fouled and then hit two free throws.
Ravencamp then drove the final nail in the Wildcats coffin with another steal, a layup and ensuing free throw that highlighted a 9-0 run.
“We have players who rise to the occasion, and that certainly was the case tonight,” South coach Jimmy Cain said after his 12-14 Jaguars advanced to Thursday night’s championship game against 24-1 Columbia Rock Bridge.
“You have to credit our guys, especially late in the game. They knew what they were supposed to do, and they went out and did it. It’s hard to beat a good team three times in a season, and we were able to do that tonight.”
Ravencamp has scored 25 and 39 points in the two previous wins over the Wildcats and finished with a team-high 21 Tuesday night. Swanegan added 19.
“We had to play smart basketball the last three minutes, and we were able to do that because we work on that scenario in practice,” said Ravencamp, who scored eight points in the final period. “Coach Cain has us prepared for every situation we might face.
“Tonight, it’s tied with about three minutes to go, and we wind up winning by 10. We hit some late free throws and played great defense. That’s how you beat a team like Blue Springs three times in one season.”
The game was tied 14-all after one period, 34-all at halftime and South led 47-45 after three quarters.
“I want to win as badly as anyone and we came up short tonight because South is a very good, disciplined team,” Wildcats coach Adam Jones said after his 9-17 team saw its season come to an end. “Our expectation is to win every time we go out on the court, and we didn’t win tonight or the two other times we played them. They played well at the end of the game ...”
His voice dropped off and he didn’t need to end the sentence.
“They have some great players and we just didn’t get it done, especially at the end of the game,” said Daniel Parker, who has battled a lower body injury but came off the bench to score 20 points and ignite the Wildcats offense. “We really wanted to win this game, beat them for the first time this season, but we didn’t. It’s disappointing, but we know those guys and respect them, and wish them luck.
“Now, it’s on to track season.”
Blue Springs guard R.J. Lawrence was on fire to start the game, scoring 11 of his game-high 26 points in the first quarter.
“We did some things defensively to slow R.J. down in the second half,” Cain said after Lawrence scored just seven points in the second half. “They’re an explosive team, and our kids did a great job slowing them down – especially late in the game.”
Swanegan spent much of the night battling Parker, and the two longtime friendly foes had kind words for each other after the game.
“I’ve played against Daniel since we were in the first grade,” Swanegan said. “I’m happy for all the success he’s had in football and basketball. We have a good time playing against each other, but I’m a little happier now than he probably is.”
Parker agreed with that comment, adding, “We’ve known each other a long time and played against each other a long time. I wish him well in the championship game. If we couldn’t make, I’m glad Ethan and the South guys did.”