Truman boys basketball coach Billy Guinnee and senior Zach Large agreed the Patriots got plenty of open shots during the first half of Thursday afternoon’s meeting with Blue Springs South.

Truman boys basketball coach Billy Guinnee and senior Zach Large agreed the Patriots got plenty of open shots during the first half of Thursday afternoon’s meeting with Blue Springs South.

The problem was the Patriots couldn’t make them, and the result was a 64-51 victory for the Jaguars in the semifinals of the Bank Midwest Holiday Classic at the Mabee Center at William Jewell College.

Truman went 7 for 26 from the field during the first half, including 0 for 7 on 3-pointers. By contrast, South was 11 of 21 from the field. Although the Patriots made 10 of 18 second-half field goals it wasn’t enough for them to overcome a double-digit halftime deficit and South advanced to the championship of the Cardinal Division.

Despite their shooting troubles, the Patriots kept pace with the Jaguars (8-1) into the second quarter. They trailed 11-8 after one quarter and were tied 15-15 when the Jaguars – sparked by their uptempo game – posted a 13-2 run to make it 28-17 South at halftime.

South coach Jimmy Cain attributed South’s success at pushing the ball to defensive rebounding.

“I think they ended up with six offensive rebounds in the first half,” Cain said. “I’m not sure how many of those were early in the game, but for us to get out and run in transition, we’ve got to get stops. We did a much better job (the second quarter) on the defensive boards (of) getting stops, which allowed us to get out in the open floor.”

Junior guard Justin Pitts, whose 19 points paced South, attributed South’s ability to run the floor to multiple factors.

“We picked our defensive intensity up – and we started playing harder and playing as a team,” Pitts said.

It was easy for the Patriots (5-5) to trace the roots of their struggles.

“We couldn’t get anything (to go) down,” said Large, who paced the Patriots with 20 points. “We played them pretty evenly the second half, so basically, it did come down (to the fact) that we couldn’t hit anything the first half.”

Specifically, the Patriots (5-5) repeatedly missed open layups. And Thursday wasn’t the first time this season the Patriots have missed them, he said.

“We did that against (William) Chrisman,” Guinnee said. “We missed a number of layups – and we just can’t miss those easy ones. It’s hard enough to score against good teams (as it is), so you can’t miss the easy ones early on.”

“If we come out in the second half and it’s a two-point game or it’s tied, then it’s a whole different atmosphere, a whole different mindset,” he added.

Although Truman made it a single-digit ballgame early in the third quarter, South built on its second-quarter momentum and led by 16 twice, including 45-29 at quarter’s end. Winning the second and third quarters allowed the Jaguars to withstand Truman’s 22-point fourth quarter surge and move on to face Liberty North for the division title at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Jewell. North advanced by defeating Harrisonville 52-43 Thursday.

“It’s going to be great,” Pitts said of playing in the title game. “We just need to play ‘D.’”

The Patriots will play Harrisonville for third at noon today. With Thursday’s loss, Truman’s focus for the tournament has changed, according to Large.

“We want to start playing well going into conference games, because those are important,” he said. “Now that we can’t win this tournament, we’re more focused on just finishing up strong, having a good showing, getting ready for conference.”