• Steady Jags weather hostile environment to topple Blue Springs

  • It takes a lot to rattle the Blue Springs South boys basketball team.

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  • By Shawn Garrison
    It takes a lot to rattle the Blue Springs South boys basketball team.
    A hostile environment with a delirious opposing student section? The Jaguars aren’t gonna blink. An arch rival feeding off the emotion of its crowd and mounting a charge from the get-go? Not shaking South.
    Friday night, the Class 5 No. 5-ranked Jaguars faced rival Blue Springs in front of a packed house on the Wildcats’ home court and withstood a strong start from the Cats to earn a 74-58 Suburban Big Six Conference victory.
    In the opening minutes, an energized Blue Springs squad sprinted to a 12-5 lead, but the Jags (15-2, 2-0 conference) recovered and led 17-15 at the end of the period.
    As the game progressed, South’s margin steadily increased and the Cats (10-6, 0-2) trailed by double digits for the majority of the second half. Several times, Blue Springs appeared on the verge of rallying, only to see the Jags answer their call.
    “They do a great job of keeping their poise,” South coach Jimmy Cain said. “They also understood that we played a really good Blue Springs team. Blue Springs going on runs is something we expected and our kids did a great job of continuing to play at our pace.”
    After falling behind 39-29 at halftime, Blue Springs quickly pulled to within 39-33 on buckets from Jaylin Dinkins and Jay Corwin. Cain quickly called a timeout and the Jags responded with consecutive baskets from Carl Martin to push the lead back to 10. That sparked a 9-2 run that boosted South’s lead to 48-35.
    The Jags kept Blue Springs at a safe distance the rest of the way, although the Cats were still within a couple spurts of getting back in the game as they trailed 55-44 with 6:16 left. But Martin scored four points within 24 seconds and then swiped a steal and threw a pass to Justin Pitts for a layup to put South up 61-44.
    Blue Springs mounted a mini-surge in the middle of the fourth as Walter Sorrells completed a three-point play then knocked down another basket and drew a foul to bring the Cats within 63-51 with 3:10 remaining.
    Once again, South produced an answer as 6-foot-7 sophomore Kevin Puryear threw down a two-hand slam, drew a foul and converted the free throw. On the Jags’ next possession, Puryear flushed another dunk to give South a 70-53 advantage.
    “You’re going to have runs in basketball,” said Puryear, who finished with 13 points and eight rebounds. “That’s just the game. But you just got to get through it. I think we did a very good job of that.”
    Page 2 of 2 - For the second time this week, Cain praised the effort of his reserves as Kendall Blanton, Kris Butts and Nick Buccero combined for 24 points. Blanton totaled 10 points, five boards and two blocks while Butts and Buccero pitched in six points apiece. Buccero also pulled down five rebounds.
    Those performances coupled with Martin’s 17 points and Pitts’ 16 gave Cain a boxscore to admire from top to bottom.
    “Our bench was huge as usual,” Cain said. “I told our guys that I felt like every time our bench came in they gave us a spark. And the starters played great as well.”
    Sorrells paced Blue Springs with 18 points and four steals while Corwin tallied 16 points and seven rebounds. But while the Jags kept their emotions in check throughout the contest, Blue Springs failed to maintain its early wave of energy.
    “I think we had a good game plan set up and we executed early,” said Wildcats coach Adam Jones, whose team played without 6-foot-3 junior Elijah Lee for the sixth consecutive game as he battles a foot injury. “... The emotion definitely gave us a lift and kept us going (early), but it's four quarters. We’re not putting four quarters together and you’ve got to put four quarters of great basketball together to beat Coach Cain’s team.”

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