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Examiner
  • Jags past tough road test

  • Though Blue Springs South’s boys had decisively beaten Rockhurst a month ago to win their own McDonald’s Tournament, playing the Hawklets in their raucous State Line Road environment presents a whole different mental animal.

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  • Though Blue Springs South’s boys had decisively beaten Rockhurst a month ago to win their own McDonald’s Tournament, playing the Hawklets in their raucous State Line Road environment presents a whole different mental animal.
    After Rockhurst landed a solid early punch in Friday’s showdown, South responded to lead at halftime, withstood the Hawklets’ furious push to end the third quarter and successfully toed the free-throw line throughout the fourth to salt away a 58-52 win.
    While improving to 11-1, the fifth-ranked Jaguars also snapped ninth-ranked Rockhurst’s (11-3) eight-game win streak.
    “We knew we had to stay tough,” South coach Jimmy Cain said. “They would make runs, and we had to weather those runs. Every run they went on, you really saw some determination by our kids.
    “That was a great test for us on the road, and I really like how our kids responded to that test.”
    Rockhurst’s biggest run came in the third quarter, after it went scoreless for the first 4:42 after halftime, missing six shots from the field, two more at the line and committing three turnovers in the process. Meanwhile, South slowly turned a 30-25 halftime edge into the game’s biggest advantage at 37-25.
    But Michael Jones and Kyle Wolf accounted for a 10-0 run by the Hawklets, capped in the final half-minute by Wolf’s putback and Zach Nelson’s transition feed to Wolf for a buzzer-beating layup.
    South’s Carl Martin quelled the momentum by driving and converting a three-point play to start the fourth, pushing its lead to 40-35. Two minutes later, with the score at 42-37, a no-call on Kevin Puryear’s defense of a Wolf shot drew enough response from Rockhurst coach Mark Nusbaum that he was whistled for a technical foul.
    Pitts converted both ensuing free throws, and the Jaguars went into a patient offensive mode. Andrew Wright, Carl Martin (following a steal) and Martin again each converted both ends of a one-and-one at the foul line to make it 50-39, as South tallied a 15-of-17 effort on free throws in the fourth.
    “We had a really good possession to start the fourth,” Cain said. “But more than that possession, it was a mindset for our kids.”
    Pitts led the Jaguars with 26 points, including three 3-pointers, and seven rebounds. He scored eight in a row on three baskets after Rockhurst’s Tom Keller had netted six straight to make it 11-2 Hawklets in the first quarter.
    “I just trust my teammates to get me the ball if I’m shooting good,” Pitts said, “just like they trust me to get them the ball. It’s a team effort.”
    In the second, South led 21-18 when the 6-foot-7 Puryear picked up his second foul with 4:27 left, benching the Jaguars’ top post presence for the balance of the half. But Pitts scored the next two baskets, and Wright buried a trey from the top of the key to make it 28-18.
    Page 2 of 2 - Martin finished with 16 points to complement Pitts in the backcourt, and Kris Butts chipped in seven off the bench.
    “We have some guys that can score in the post, and we feel like we have guys that can do a lot of damage off the dribble,” Cain said. “We try to mix it up, and we had a lot of success with our drive-and-kick. We got in a really good rhythm, so we stayed with that.”
    Wolf (14 rebounds) and Jones finished with 16 points apiece for Rockhurst.
    “I don’t feel bad about the effort tonight,” Nusbaum said. “Jimmy does a great job with (the Jaguars), and we played them tougher than at their place. That and they didn’t miss free throws. That’s a tribute to how hard they work.”
    Rockhurst outlasted South in the junior varsity game, 69-66. Brandon Kilgore’s 19 points led South.
     
     

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