• Hot-shooting Jags claim conference crown

  • The Blue Springs South boys picked a good night to have hot shooting hands from start to finish.

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  • The Blue Springs South boys picked a good night to have hot shooting hands from start to finish.
    Despite a double-digit lead in the first quarter, the Jaguars couldn’t afford an offensive dry spell Friday against Liberty. When the visiting Blue Jays finally faltered in the fourth quarter, the Class 5 second-ranked Jaguars pounced to claim a 74-61 win, and clinch a Suburban Big Six title in the process.
    South shot 26 of 48 from the floor, including seven of 14 behind the 3-point arc, while improving to 21-2 overall and 8-0 in conference to win their second crown in the last three years. Two league games remain, but Blue Springs’ win Friday over Lee’s Summit North left every other team with at least three league losses.
    “(The Blue Jays) had two really hot hands for 2 1/2 quarters,” Blue Springs South coach Jimmy Cain said. “Our kids did a good job of continuing to play, and when they started missing shots we got defensive rebounds.
    “I felt we were really good offensively, and they were really good offensively. We just made some crucial stops midway through the third into the fourth.”
    “Our patience was working well for us,” added sophomore Kevin Puryear, who racked up 22 points and seven rebounds. “We moved the ball, and if we get quality shots, we’ll get rewarded.”
    The early rewards meant a 14-3 lead in the first four minutes, as Carl Martin hit two 3-pointers, Justin Pitts converted a three-point play and sub Nick Buccero canned a straight-away 3.
    But Liberty (16-7, 4-4) used a pair of 7-0 spurts to get back into it, aided by just two turnovers in the half, and Brandon Moultrie’s 3-pointer had the Jays within 37-35 at halftime.
    Reece Frizzell pitched in seven points off the bench for Liberty, but the big first-half gunner was junior guard Kellan Turner, who hit four-of-six 3-pointers on his way to 16 points.
    “They were getting into a lot of ball screens and were switching,” Cain said of his guards’ defense. “The adjustment we made at halftime was to not switch ball screens. Carl and Justin did a good job of not giving them breathing room.”
    Twice Liberty led in the third, the second time when Eric Greely’s basket made it 43-42 at the 3:29 mark. But the 6-foot-7 Puryear responded with a 3-pointer on the Jaguars’ next possession, and Pitts turned a steal into a layup.
    That gave South the lead for good, though the score still stood at 56-52 early in the fourth after Greely converted a three-point play and stuck a putback a minute later. Puryear padded the lead with two pairs of free throws, and following a Liberty turnover South broke the press for a Kris Butts jumper to get the lead back to double digits.
    Page 2 of 2 - With the score at 66-56, Puryear got fouled on the baseline by Arty Tuggle, and Tuggle’s verbalized displeasure led to a technical foul. Puryear drained all four ensuing free throws to seal the game.
    Pitts finished with 21 points and snared eight rebounds, while Martin added 13 points and Khorey Kilgore chipped in seven points and six boards. The Jaguars owned a 32-21 rebounding advantage.
    Moultrie scored 13 of his 19 points in the second half for Liberty, but Turner got off just three shots in the second half and finished with 20 points. After just two turnovers in the first half, the Blue Jays were guilty of eight cough-ups after halftime.
    “Coach told us we just had to keep playing defense and bringing the intensity,” Pitts said. “(The Blue Jays) came out strong. They’re a great team and came out ready to play.”

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