Bad start hinders Blue Springs in tournament
Trevor Robinson gave fourth-seeded Blue Springs hope of pulling off a comeback win against Warrensburg Friday night in the Bank Midwest/William Jewell Holiday Basketball Classic.
Terrence Culler made sure that sense of hope was brief.
With about a minute to play, Robinson scored the last of his 10 points on a layup to make it 51-51. Culler answered with a layup on the next possession. The junior guard then made four free throws down the stretch as part of a 7-0 Warrensburg run to help the fifth-seeded Tigers hold off the Wildcats 58-51 in first-round Cardinal Division play at William Jewell College.
Robinson suggested that Culler wasn’t the deciding factor. When asked why Warrensburg (5-1) held on, the junior guard replied: “They just worked well as a team.”
To Wildcats coach Frank Wheeler, Blue Springs (3-5) didn’t let it get away during the final minute.
“We forced enough turnovers to keep ourselves in the game, but we just were so inefficient on the offensive end,” Wheeler said. “We couldn’t get enough things (together) to get any kind of a run going to get momentum on our side.”
Indeed, the Wildcats struggled offensively – at least during the first half, when they went 5-for-24 from the field. Plagued by shots that wouldn’t go in, they quickly found themselves in a 10-0 hole. They trailed 22-14 at halftime.
“Against teams that defend, which they did, we don’t shoot as well (as we do otherwise),” Wheeler said. “We didn’t shoot it (well) tonight, and I didn’t think we worked overly hard to create good shots for ourselves.”
Actually, Blue Springs shot well enough the second half to keep it close, making 14 of 27 field goals. Senior guard Greg Wisner helped the Wildcats stay in it by scoring 16 of his game-leading 25 points during the half.
He rattled in a 3-pointer to make it a one-point ballgame, 42-41, midway through the fourth quarter. The Tigers then posted a 6-0 run before the Wildcats answered with 10-3 run, capped by Robinson’s game-tying layup.
Culler’s ability to answer Blue Springs’ surge during the final minute didn’t surprise Tigers coach Chris Nimmo.
“He’s one of our usual key contributors,” Nimmo said. “That was not a fluke.”
To Wheeler, the loss proved that Blue Springs must keep working to create shots, specifically through “moving without the ball and setting screens away from the ball and coming off screens hard and anticipating catching” the ball.
“I just thought that we matched up fairly well (with Warrensburg), and it was disappointing that we weren’t able to take advantage of their defense a little better,” he said.
Blue Springs will face eighth-seeded Platte County, which lost to top-seeded Lee’s Summit West 87-50 Friday, at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at William Jewell. Warrensburg will face West at 6 p.m. Monday.