• Six EJC hoops stars named to coaches' all-state team

  • Six Eastern Jackson County basketball standouts were recognized among the state’s best players on Thursday.

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  • Six Eastern Jackson County basketball standouts were recognized among the state’s best players on Thursday.
    Blue Springs South senior guard Justin Pitts and Fort Osage senior forward D’Vante Mosby were named to the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association Class 5 all-state team. Blue Springs seniors Lizzy Wendell and Karyla Middlebrook, Truman junior Becca Jonas and Lee’s Summit North junior Imani Johnson earned Class 5 all-state status on the girls side.
    All five players stood out in their own way, but there was one similarity that linked each of them: Victories.
    Wendell and Middlebrook earned the honor for the second consecutive season after boosting Blue Springs to the final four for the fifth consecutive season. While the Wildcats fell short of their first state championship, they still finished third and set a program record for wins in a season by going 29-3.
    Wendell, who has signed to play at Drake next year, was a varsity contributor all four years and averaged 18.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.1 steals, two assists and 1.5 blocks in her senior campaign. Middlebrook, a point guard, sat out her freshman year after transferring from Lee’s Summit, but has been a varsity mainstay ever since. The Texas Tech signee posted averages of 11.8 points, four assists, 3.6 boards and 1.2 steals as a senior.
    After the duo helped Blue Springs handle Cor Jesu Academy 45-13 in the state third-place game, Wildcats coach Mark Spigarelli quickly grew emotional talking about their departure.
    “We don’t have enough time in this (press) conference for me to say what I really think of these two,” Spigarelli said. “They’ve been outstanding all-state players and had as much success as I’ve seen any group have.”
    In her third season as the Patriots’ starting center, Jonas helped Truman claim a Suburban Middle Six Conference championship and roll to an undefeated regular season before finishing 25-1 after losing to Kearney 40-35 in the Class 5 District 15 championship. She ended with averages of 14.5 points, 9.2 rebounds, three assists and two blocks.
    While the 6-foot-1 Jonas, who has verbally committed to Drake, has emerged as one of the state’s most dominant post players, Truman coach Steve Cassity said she’s not your run-of-the-mill interior threat.
    “I think her obvious ability to score around the basket and rebound and control play in the post is the most obvious skill she possesses,” he said, “but I think if you watch her play enough, you’ll be impressed by what a great passer she is out of the post. And her shooting range for a post is impressive. ... Our guards, at just about any time, will look at Becca in the open court and let her bring it down the floor.
    “When you’ve got a kid that’s 6-foot-1 and can handle the ball and pass the ball as surgically as she can, it’s a devastating weapon.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Pitts was the leader of the most successful class in Blue Springs South history, helping the Jaguars to three straight 20-win seasons and consecutive district titles. Their 24-3 record, which ended after a 72-67 loss to Rockhurst in the Class 5 sectional, was the best in school history.
    Not only did Pitts score (16.6 ppg), but he did so in an incredibly efficient fashion, shooting 59 percent from the field and 45 percent from behind the arc. While he controlled the South offense, Jaguars coach Jimmy Cain occasionally had to ride him to look for his own shot more because of how often he tried to get his teammates involved.
    “He’s a guy that at times I had to almost bark at him to shoot the ball more than he did because he was so comfortable delegating to teammates,” Cain said. “He was so unselfish and does so many things well that sometimes he was a victim of the unselfishness.”
    Pitts dished out 3.5 assists per game, pulled down 3.5 rebounds and swiped 3.1 steals, setting school single-season and career records (260) for swipes.
    “He owns every steals record in the books,” Cain said. “And obviously, the main thing he’ll be remembered for are the wins he gave to the school.”
    Mosby, who is the first boys basketball player to ever garner all-state recognition at Fort, led the Indians to their most successful two-year run in school history as they reached the Class 5 quarterfinals for the first time, snared their first conference championship, repeated as district champions and set the program mark for victories (22-5) before losing to Rockhurst 81-55.
    A four-year starter, he tallied 1,191 points and 1,071 rebounds in his career and finished as the Indians’ all-time leader in boards, steals and charges taken while playing in all 103 varsity games over the last four years.
    As a senior, he notched averages of 11.1 points, 11.9 rebounds and 1.9 steals.
    Fort coach Josh Wilson recalled Mosby’s effort in the Indians’ 63-43 win over William Chrisman this season as the prototypical Mosby effort. He scored just four points, but ripped down 15 boards, swiped a handful of steals and recorded a pair of blocks.
    “As a coach, you can go back and look and say, ‘OK, he had a great game, how many points did he end up with?’” Wilson said, “and you hear he only had four. But you look at all the other things he did to make the team successful. And that’s just the kid.”
    Follow Shawn Garrison on Twitter: @GarrisonEJC

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