Let’s talk about three-peats.
Let’s talk about three-peats.
For the past three years, coach Mark Spigarelli’s Blue Springs High School girls basketball team has won a Suburban Big conference title.
The Wildcats have reached, or surpassed, 28 victories – going 83-10 over that span.
Blue Springs is the only team in the state to reach the Class 4 final four three times in a row and have claimed three second-place trophies.
Three members of this year’s Examiner All-Area team are Wildcats – Player of the Year Cee Cee Burris and guards Jamesia Price and Tyonna Snow.
So it should come as no surprise Spigarelli is The Examiner’s Girls Coach of the Year.
“I’m honored,” Spigarelli said. “But you don’t win an award like this without great players. And we have had great, great players. And I have a great coaching staff. We had our ups and downs last season, but now it’s time to look at the good things that happened.”
Spigarelli took over the Wildcats program three years ago and led his first-year team to a 28-3 mark. They were 27-4 in year No. 2 and followed that with another 28-3 campaign.
While his second-year team had many issues on and off the court, this year’s squad enjoyed smooth sailing until the final week of the season.
A player left the week before the final four and Spigarelli had to deal with a parental issue. Yet his team responded with a 61-43 victory over St. Joseph’s Academy in the semifinal game at Columbia, Mo.
“There were a lot of high points – really great moments – and that was one of them,” Spigarelli said. “We had a lot to deal with before the final four, and the girls put it all aside and got the job done that night of the semifinals.
“I think that was just one of the happiest and most fun locker rooms I’ve ever gone into after a game.”
It wasn’t as much fun the next night, as Incarnate Word stopped the Wildcats 59-49 and the last two minutes saw a Wildcats meltdown that resulted in the ejection of two players and angry words from parents in the stands at the Mizzou Arena.
“I thought the end of that game might tarnish the entire season, but now that I look back on it, it didn’t,” he said. “I wish it would have never happened, but it did. I apologized after the game.
“It was a tough way for the season to end. But there were so many good moments. And when we had our banquet, all those good moments were talked about, and it really made me appreciate the good times.”
While Spigarelli was often the lightning rod for angry Wildcats fans, he always maintained control of the best team in Eastern Jackson County.
“I love Spig,” Burris said. “He is an amazing coach. We had issues – a lot more last year, than this year, but he held the team together.
“The week before the final four, we all found out that he was a great coach and a good friend. He would do anything for any of us, and I think we wanted to go to Columbia and win it all for him.
Burris and the Wildcats couldn’t get the win, but she’ll never lose the memories she made with her coach.
“We got the first win, but couldn’t get that second one. And that still bothers me. But I’ll never forget my time playing at Blue Springs, and I am so lucky to have had him as my coach.”
Despite the ups and downs of a roller-coaster season, Spigarelli said there’s nothing he’d rather do.
“You wish you didn’t have some of the conflicts you have to deal with, but I love being around the kids,” he said. “I love to teach and watch them really play well.
“I love to watch a game like the semifinal game at Columbia or watch how good they played at the tournaments in St. Louis and Blue Valley North.
“The kids – their energy, their enthusiasm, their desire – I wouldn’t trade being around that for anything.”