D.J. Hyde walked out of the Blue Springs South dressing room trying his best to smile as he greeted his mom Deneane, Jaguar fans and classmates in the Blue Springs High School gymnasium.
But his bloodshot eyes were a dead giveaway to the pain the senior guard was feeling after top-seeded Columbia Rock Bridge withstood a late Jaguar surge to claim a 79-71 victory in the Class 5 District 9 championship game at Blue Springs High School.
Hyde hit back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the Jaguars’ fourth-quarter deficit to 64-61 with 3:03 left, and it soon appeared that a Jared Ravencamp driving layup and foul would give South the chance to tie the game.
But Ravencamp was called for an offensive foul. A stunned and disappointed Ravencamp slammed the ball to the court, and was called for a technical foul.
That sent the Bruins’ Isaiah Mosely, who has been offered a basketball scholarship by Missouri, to the line and he promptly hit both free throws. From that point on, the Bruins were 13 of 15 from the line and improved to 28-1 and advanced to Wednesday’s Class 5 sectional playoff in Sedalia.
“We’re a band of brothers, and tonight I had to tell my brothers goodbye,” said Hyde, who wore his passion on sleeve, whether he was providing instant offense off the bench or waving a towel and cheering on his teammates from the sidelines.
“Tonight, when I hit those threes, it was almost surreal,” added Hyde, who finished with eight points. “I could see the guys on the bench go crazy, and our fans were going crazy and it was so loud in the gym. That’s what you live for, that’s why you work so hard before and after practice and during practice, to experience moments like that.
“We might have lost, but I am so proud to be a part of this team, and to have played with my brothers the past four years. We lost, and that’s hard, but I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.”
Neither would fellow senior Ethan Swanegan, who finished with 14 points and spent much of the night dueling with Mosely and Dajuan Harris, who finished with 29 and 20 points, respectively.
“When D.J. hit those bombs it was like, ‘Game on!’ It was so exciting. We made a nice run at them, but we just couldn’t get over the hump,” said Swanegan, who will play football at Missouri State. “We’d get it close and they’d go on a run, but they have so much talent – probably the most talent of any team we’ve played this year.
“And we made them work hard for that win. I am so proud to be a part of this team.”
A red-eyed coach Jimmy Cain emerged from the locker room, embraced his mother and his young son, and talked about the highs and lows of the title game.
“I just told my guys in the locker room how proud I am of them,” he said after his team wrapped up a 12-15 season. “They worked so hard. I want to say this about Jared – he was frustrated when he thought he was going to get the opportunity to possibly tie the game after he thought he hit the layup.
“In the heat of the moment, something like that can happen. He’s a competitor, he wants to win, and he played his heart out. The game and this team mean so much to him.
“... Now, you look at the game, at the talent they have; I am so proud that we made them work for the win.
“D.J. hit the threes, Ethan and Jaylon (McDaniel, a freshman center) played so hard, Jack (Gillig) hit some big threes, our seniors gave it everything they had, and someone has to lose. Unfortunately, tonight, it was our team. I love this team, I love the guys on this team, and boy, am I going to miss our seniors. That’s why that last loss is so tough.”
McDaniel, who finished with 14 points and gave Cain and Jaguars fans a glimpse into the future, said he wished he could have done more to help the seniors play one more game.
“I love our seniors and we all wanted to have one more game,” McDaniel said. “I’m coming back, and I wish next season started tomorrow. I’m going to keep playing hard and can’t wait till next season. I just wish (our seniors) could come back and play again.”
South’s Gillig finished with 14 points.