A rough start to the season had a good finish for the Blue Springs South boys basketball team.

It just wasn’t quite good enough.

A rough start to the season had a good finish for the Blue Springs South boys basketball team.
It just wasn’t quite good enough.
The Jaguars battled host Lee’s Summit to the wire Wednesday in the Class 5 District 14 semifinals, but the Tigers made enough plays in the end to pull out a 55-51 victory and berth in Friday’s championship against Lee’s Summit West.
“All of our seniors, I’m just proud of the way they went out,” Jaguars coach Jimmy Cain said after his team finished 8-18. “They competed like crazy, and when you do that, I told them you can look in the mirror and feel good about your effort.
“We won three out of four coming into tonight and had a chance to make the district championship. You can’t ask for more than that. I’m proud of the way they ended the season with a lot of fight in them.”
A few plays at the end kept the feisty Jaguars from making it one step further.
“We fought to the end,” said South junior point guard Brandon Murillo, who scored 12 points and grabbed six rebounds. “Coach tells us to keep going hard until the game is over, and we did that. We just didn’t come out on top. It’s a tough way to end it, but nobody expected us to even get this far.”
The Jaguars split four games with the Tigers this season, but this one meant the end for South despite the strong effort. Sean Green and Anthony May each scored 17 points to spark Lee’s Summit (10-15) to the win.
South 6-foot-10 senior Matt Wilbers sank a pair of free throws with 3:33 left to tie it at 50, but Sam Sealer, with a foot on the 3-point line, sank a jumper to give Lee’s Summit the lead for good at 52-50 with 2:53 remaining.
After a South turnover, the Tigers went into a stall for nearly two minutes, forcing the Jaguars to foul. After Green missed the one-and-one attempt, Wilbers had another chance to tie it.
He missed the first end of a two-shot foul but made the second to make it 52-51 with 10.6 seconds left. South was forced to foul Green again, and he made the first end of the bonus but missed the second.
With a chance to tie it, Trayon Jones, trying to track down a pass, stepped out of bounds with 6.2 seconds left.
“The pass was thrown a little ahead of me and I got a little off balance and stepped out,” said Jones, who scored a team-high 14 points.
Trey Cox then buried two free throws – his only points of the game – to seal it with 5 seconds left.
“He’s a great free-throw shooter, and that’s who we want at the line,” Tigers coach Keith Miller said. “He’s shot so many free throws, it’s almost automatic now. He had only two points, but they were probably the most important two points.”
Like their three previous meetings, of which South won two, the game was close throughout.
“This was similar to our other games with them – they all went down to the wire,” Cain said. “I think the difference was that their bench really came through for them. We had a little of the fatigue factor at the end of the game, and I think they had a little more energy.”
The Tigers, who substituted for all five players at once for much of the night, got 32 points from its bench, including the 17 from May and eight from Corbin Berkstresser. South got only 11 points from its bench.
Green sparked the Tigers to a 34-29 halftime lead with 10 of his 17 coming in the second quarter.
South, though, behind Murillo’s seven third-quarter points, tied it at 44 entering the final period. Wilbers, who finished with 12 points and a game-high eight rebounds, had back-to-back baskets to spark an 8-4 spurt that tied it.
Jones drained a 3-pointer to put South ahead 48-47, but May hit a free throw and a bank shot to put the Tigers back up.