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Examiner
  • Jaguars' identity evolving

  • The identity of the Blue Springs South boys basketball team is going to change. That much is certain.

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  • The identity of the Blue Springs South boys basketball team is going to change. That much is certain.
    For the past few seasons, the Jaguars have tried to run teams off the floor with speedy guards like D.J. Booker, Justin Pitts, Carl Martin and a slew of other veteran perimeter players coming off the bench. Much of South’s offense was based around four-out-one-in sets that were effective because of its array of efficient long-range shooters.
    Next season, the Jags will work in some new guards into their rotation while building much of its system around 6-foot-8 seniors Kendall Blanton and Jacob Towler and 6-foot-7 junior Kevin Puryear. South coach Jimmy Cain said his core coaching philosophies don’t change, regardless of personnel, but there will definitely be some strategic tweaks.
    “We’ve seen all three big guys learn how to be on the floor at the same time,” Cain said after his team played a doubleheader in the final week of the Lee’s Summit North summer league Thursday night. “Whereas in the past, we’ve had so many guards on the court at once we didn’t really have to do that.”
    Cain added that he still expects his team to push in transition, although naturally the Jags’ breaks probably won’t be quite as fast as in the last couple seasons.
    That’s not to say he doesn’t hold high expectations for his returning guards. He’s seen gradual improvement throughout the summer from his perimeter group, including Thursday.
    In South’s first game against Raytown South, senior guard Thomas Abarca splashed three consecutive 3-pointers in the first half, and four in the game, and junior Brandon Kilgore scored eight straight points in the final 5:28 to help the Jags pull out a 41-40 win.
    “There comes a learning curve with these guys that you’re going to have to be patient with,” Cain said. “But I think we have an opportunity with some of the young, talented guys that are coming up to get them where we need them when we need it the most. That’s the key.”
    Puryear is the team’s only returning starter, and he looked like the most seasoned player on the floor Thursday. He notched 12 points against the Cardinals and poured in 15 in a 55-41 victory over Raytown. He also produced the highlight of the night by knocking down a game-winning trey several feet behind the arc as time expired against Ray-South.
    It’s been quite a week for Puryear, who took a college visit to Kansas State on Wednesday and will check out Missouri today.
    “K-State was real nice,” Puryear said. “I got to meet Coach (Bruce) Weber and they’ve got a really nice staff. They just built a multimillion dollar facility. It’s a very nice school, very beautiful.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Puryear figures to spend a lot more time outside the paint this season with Blanton and Towler patrolling the interior. Towler was out of town for Thursday’s games so Puryear and Blanton spent much of the time playing a high-low game with Puryear frequently popping out for pick-and-rolls near the top of the key.
    “I’ve been playing a lot of three-guard, coming off the dribble a lot, shooting on the perimeter,” Puryear said. “That’s part of my game I’m trying to work on, so it’s kind of making us all better because when I’m driving, it opens up a lot of opportunities for everybody else.”
    Blanton said he still sees his role mainly as a defensive specialist and he lived up to that title Thursday by blocking six shots against Ray-South.
    He added that he’s not concerned about the squad’s talent level. It’s just a matter of learning how to utilize all the new pieces.
    “It’s a learning process every day,” said Blanton, who has verbally committed to Mizzou to play football. “But all the new guys got talent. They were here with us last year and played JV, so they played against us every day and practice and know what it’s like to play varsity tempo.
    “The main focal point we’ve got to focus on right now is our chemistry. Once we get our chemistry down, I think we’ll be all right.”
    Follow Shawn Garrison on Twitter: @GarrisonEJC
     

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