• Jag suffer sectional heartbreak

  • Slowly, after a lengthy heartfelt postgame session with coach Jimmy Cain, members of the Blue Spring South boys basketball team came out of their locker room.

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  • Slowly, after a lengthy heartfelt postgame session with coach Jimmy Cain, members of the Blue Spring South boys basketball team came out of their locker room.
    Tears streamed down their faces and their eyes were cast toward the ground as they tried to come to grips with a devastating 72-67 loss to Rockhurst in Class 5 sectional play Wednesday afternoon at the Independence Events Center.
    “I'm sorry,” sophomore Kevin Puryear said as he wiped tears from his face, “I'm really battling my emotions right now. I love the guys in that locker room. I love our seniors. To see our season come to an end like that just hurts so much.
    “We can all say that we gave it everything we had. We left it all out on the court. It just wasn't quite enough.”
    The 24-3 Jaguars were the No. 2-ranked team in the state and owned a 2-1 regular-season margin over the 23-5 third-ranked Hawklets, but could not come up with a way to stop senior forward Kyle Wolf, who finished with a game-high 21 points.
    “We have 10 seniors on our team, and I think that our experience played a big role in this win,” said Wolf, who scored 10 points in the first half and 11 in the second. “We have so much respect for Blue Springs South.
    “They beat us the first two times we played them and we were able to beat them the next two games, including today. They are so quick and play such great defense that we had to play a great game to beat them.”
    South jumped out to a quick 8-3 lead on early 3-pointers from Carl Martin and Andrew Wright, but the Hawklets went on a 10-0 run to take a 19-10 lead after one period and a 36-29 lead at halftime.
    “The turning point of the game was that (10-0) run in the first period when we took the lead and managed, somehow, to hold it the entire game,” Rockhurst coach Mark Nusbaum said. “We were also able to avoid allowing them to score a lot of baskets off their transition game.
    “I think they only got a couple of baskets after steals, and they usually get a couple each quarter. Jimmy has done a great job with that team, and I have so much respect for him and his kids. We knew this was going to be a tough game, and it was.”
    Five times in the second half, Blue Springs South cut the deficit to five points. At 3:28 of the fourth quarter, Puryear hit a layup to make it 58-55.
    But Wolf then hit two free throws, Connor Kuhlman added a free throw and Brad Wilkins nailed a short jumper to help Rockhurst regain the momentum and maintain a sizable lead in the closing minute.
    Page 2 of 2 - “I know they're hurting now,” Cain said as he emerged from the locker room, “but I hope those guys know that they helped establish the foundation of this basketball team. They put the program on the map.
    “Those seniors were part of a turnaround for this program, and I know how hard they have worked the past four years to make this program something special. It's been a long journey to this game, and they did leave everything on the court.
    “Mark's kids played a great game. We lost to a very good team. Now, that doesn't make it any easier, but I hope this loss doesn't take away from all the good things we did this season.”
    Puryear finished with 15 points. Martin added 14, Kris Butts and Justin Pitts scored 10 each and Nick Buccero came off the bench to score nine.
    South’s outgoing senior class compiled a 79-32 record over four years and departs as the winningest class in school history. Their run included a pair of conference championships – this season and in 2011 – three consecutive 20-win seasons, a state quarterfinal berth in 2012 and consecutive district titles in 2012 and 2013.
    Follow Bill Althaus on Twitter: @AlthausEJC

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