When Lee’s Summit failed to take advantage of a pair of opportunities at the free-throw line, Blue Springs was more than happy to.

When Lee’s Summit failed to take advantage of a pair of opportunities at the free-throw line, Blue Springs was more than happy to.
After the Tigers missed the front end of back-to-back one-and-one situations, Blue Springs – led by sophomore guard Jamesia Price – went 8 of 10 from the free-throw line over the final 1 minute, 15 seconds to defeat the host Tigers 52-40 in the Class 5 District 14 semifinals Thursday.
The win sends the Wildcats into tonight’s 7:45 final against Lee’s Summit West, a 49-42 winner over Blue Springs South.
“We always practice our free throws,” said Price, who scored 12 of her team-high 17 in the fourth quarter. “We had to shoot 30 the other day before we could leave. I tried to do them rapid fire, but (Coach Mark Spigarelli) told me to shoot them like I do in a game. So I had to slow down and take my time.”
The practice paid off. Price was 9 of 10 from the line in the quarter to help the fourth-ranked Wildcats (24-2) grab the win.
“They made their free throws at the end,” Tigers coach Brian Bubalo said. “There’s no doubt about that. They’re good free throw shooters.
“There was a key point where we were coming back and missed the front end twice. Then we had another possession where we got a good shot but missed it.”
The Tigers (14-12) hung with Blue Springs most of the game and trailed by six with 2:41 left when they missed the free throws. Lee’s Summit finished 2 of 8 from the line, while Blue Springs made 16 of 22 attempts.
“We’ve been fortunate and shot free throws well all year,” Spigarelli said. “Both (Price and Drew Roberts) shoot in the upper 80s (percentage). Our worst free-throw shooter is in the upper 60s. This is the best free-throw shooting team I’ve ever coached.”
In addition to clutch free throws late, Price hit two big 3-pointers to help give the Wildcats some momentum.
After hitting a lull in the second quarter, the Wildcats found themselves down by five points more than midway through the quarter.
And 8-3 run tied the game before Price drained a 3-pointer with her hair in her face (see column) at the buzzer to give the Wildcats a three-point lead that they didn’t lose.
After a 6-0 Tiger run cut the lead to two points entering the fourth quarter, Price drained another big 3-pointer, followed directly by one from Lindsey Tremblay, to stretch the lead back to eight.
The Tigers never got to within five the rest of the way.
“That was big,” Spigarelli said of Price’s shots. “We lost the momentum in the second quarter. We were a little rattled. That gives you a lift going into halftime. That was a big one.”
Blue Springs senior guard Drew Roberts said the Tigers were tougher than they were last week, when the Wildcats won by 18. She also said a tough shooting night hurt Blue Springs.
“Our shots weren’t falling,” she said. “They went into a zone. We knew they were going to play zone. We were hitting all our shots in practice yesterday and we were like, ‘We need to save some for the game.’
“It’s districts, so everything is on the line. Everybody was nervous. It’s districts, anyone can win. Spig said he didn’t care if we won by one, he just wanted a win. It was definitely a good win.”