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Examiner
  • Wildcats finally find effective offensive scheme

  • It’s been a process of trial and error for the Blue Springs girls basketball team this season, but the Wildcats might have finally found an offense that suits them.

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  • It’s been a process of trial and error for the Blue Springs girls basketball team this season, but the Wildcats might have finally found an offense that suits them.
    In a clash of top-10 Class 5 teams on Friday, the fifth-ranked Cats played one of their most complete games to date in a 65-44 dismantling of sixth-ranked Parkway South at Blue Springs High School.
    Senior Lizzy Wendell notched a career-high 31 points while senior point guard Karyla Middlebrook poured in 19 as the Cats (9-2) discovered an offensive rhythm that’s so often eluded them this season.
    “When Lizzy plays at that level and Karyla plays at that level, we’re a totally different team,” Blue Springs coach Mark Spigarelli said. “We’re as good as any team probably in the state when they play at that level.”
    Over the last week, Blue Springs has implemented six or seven special plays that tries to free Wendell and Middlebrook for looks using a series of quick screens. This is the third significant offensive switch the Cats have made this season.  Spigarelli started with a system that utilized dribble drives but ditched it before the Hy-Vee Shootout last month as the offense sputtered. They then tried to revert to a scheme similar to last year’s that was heavy on cuts, but he thought that would leave Wendell and Middlebrook too fatigued by game’s end.
    Now, Spigarelli might have finally hit his mark. Wendell, who scored her 1,000th career point in the Visitation Tournament over the holidays, dominated from the outset against the Patriots, scoring 13 points in the first quarter and 21 by halftime. Parkway South coach Thomas Williams knew what was coming, and he adjusted by briefly switching to a box-and-two defense. It didn’t matter as Wendell and Middlebrook repeatedly popped open and scored 38 of Blue Springs’ first 40 points.
    “I think we can adjust to really anything,” said Wendell, who also hauled in five rebounds, snatched two steals and blocked a shot. “The other girls will step up, we need them. And then that will cause the defense to have to guard them and make it easier for me and Karyla.”
    As the offense hummed, the Blue Springs defense managed to frustrate the Patriots. Dominique Broadus, a 6-foot-1 junior, finished with 16 points, but she spent much of the game on the bench in foul trouble. Wendell was also able to coax 6-foot senior Becca Steins, a first-team all-Suburban West Conference performer last year, into a 1-for-13 shooting night.
    “I thought we did a real good job (defensively),” said Spigarelli, whose team takes on Westminster Christian at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. “There were times when (Broadus) caught it, but I thought we did a good job collapsing on her and taking her away for the most part.”
    Page 2 of 2 - There wasn’t much to nitpick as the Cats picked up their eighth win in their last nine games and fifth double-digit triumph over a ranked opponent (Pleasant Hill, Columbia Hickman, McPherson and Principia).
    “That’s probably one of our best games of the season,” said Morgan McMahan, a sophomore who finished with two points and six rebounds. “We came out ready to go. I could tell before we even started warming up we were ready to go and we were ready to win.”
     

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