Blue Springs South girls basketball coach Brad Oyler walked out of the Jaguars’ locker room Monday night sporting an ear-to-ear smile.
He’s a guy who stresses teamwork, and his Jaguars looked to be in midseason form following a season-opening 60-24 victory over Belton.
“You have plenty of things to smile about when your returning leading scorer is the sixth-leading scorer tonight and you win like we won – with a complete team effort,” Oyler said. “Our kids went out and played hard and were rewarded with a big win.”
Tiffany Davenport, who has signed a letter to play basketball at Truman State, got in early foul trouble against the Pirates, but it proved to be no problem as Naia Tauai scored a game-high 14 points, followed by Zoie Reynolds (10), Myranda Abarca (9), Kaylee Connors (8) and Bailey Fowler (6).
Davenport finished with five points as the Jaguars took a 56-24 lead into the fourth quarter and enjoyed a mercy clock over the final eight minutes.
“We’re a team,” said Tauai, a 6-foot-1 center who dominated at both ends of the court. “This was our first game, and winning like this is a real confidence boost for all of us. Everyone contributed tonight, and we feel like this is going to be a special season because of the way we play as a team. No one cares who scores or about their personal stats – we just want to win.”
While Tauai dominated in the paint, Abarca turned in a ferocious defensive performance that belied her slight 5-3 frame.
“I like to call Myranda deceptive,” Oyler said. “If a player has the ball, and doesn’t pay attention to Myranda, she’s not going to have it long. Myranda is a great defensive player. We had her on their two top players tonight.”
When asked about her defensive performance, the senior guard had a quick answer.
“I love to play defense,” said Abarca, who hit two long 3-pointers and finished the night with five steals that the Jaguars converted into eight points. “This was a good team effort. We’ve all been so excited about playing our first game, and after the way we played tonight, we’re even more excited to play our second game.
“We all like to play defense. Defense led to a lot of easy baskets tonight. We’re happy with how we played, but we’re looking forward to get back to practice, to work on some things and get ready for our next game.”
The Jaguars dominated from the opening whistle as they led 20-9 after one quarter and took a 40-17 lead into halftime.
Two of the Belton starters did not score a point, one had a basket and senior forward Courtnie Lewis finished with a team-high 13 points.