Last season, Blue Springs had one of the best backcourt shooting duos in the Kansas City area as Tyree King and RJ Lawrence often bombarded other teams with the 3-pointer.
However, with King having graduated last season, that left just Lawrence as the lone member of that duo for the 2017-18 season.
But a new 3-point duo has emerged.
Blue Springs forward Daniel Parker Jr., who shot the three well last season but was mainly used as a post player and rebounder, has changed up his game a bit for his senior year. He has played more like a stretch-four, shooting the ball even more from the perimeter and scoring more on the dribble drive.
He did both of those things Tuesday against Fort Osage when he sank 7 of 11 shots behind the arc and scored a game-best 35 points to guide Blue Springs to an 86-56 rout of the Indians at home.
“Going into the season, Coach (Adam Jones) told me I was going to be playing the stretch four,” Parker said. “I am going to be around the perimeter most of the time. He just wants me to shoot or go to the rim.
“It just happened. (His 3-point shot) just felt good. I just have it.”
Jones said Parker making some adjustment from his play last year was by design. That’s because he and Lawrence have only one other teammate who played a decent amount of varsity minutes last year.
“We’ve been mixing it up using him as a stretch four and using the inside and outside game with him,” Jones said. “When he gets shooting like he did tonight, he’s as good as anyone in the city at shooting behind the arc. We’re confident in him shooting from outside.”
Now that Parker is knocking down a good amount of threes, could he challenge Lawrence in a 3-point contest like King did the past two years?
“We shouldn’t talk about that right now. He knows who would win – me,” Lawrence, who finished with 29 points himself, said with a smile. “He is actually one of the best 3-point shooters we’ve had in Blue Springs’ history.”
Added Parker: “I think he’s still got me on that. Most of my threes are wide open.”
Three of Parker’s treys came in the first quarter, all assisted by Lawrence. Parker also had a thunderous dunk after an assist from Jay’Von McKinney to help his team take a commanding 29-12 lead. Lawrence ended the quarter with a fadeaway 3-pointer from the key at the buzzer that banked in.
In the second period, Lawrence put on a show and displayed some new moves in his bag of tricks. He had a couple of moves that absolutely fooled defenders. He made a couple of up-and-under layups and shook a defender with a lightning-quick eurostep to get a layup. Blue Springs stayed up by double digits for the entire second quarter and led 40-30 going into halftime.
“I just been working on being more crafty with the ball, being able to make those moves” Lawrence said. “Once I get to college, I won’t be able to do basic moves. I will have to be able to mix it up a little bit.”
Fort Osage (5-11) kept within striking distance for the first 3 minutes of the third as forward Ty Baker converted a 3-point play to cut Blue Springs’ lead to 48-39.
The Wildcats (7-9) went on a 10-2 run from there and got some contributions outside of Parker and Lawrence, both of whom had three fouls each in the third.
Sophomore guard Cooper Willich hit a three and McKinney had a steal and a fast-break layup to help key that spurt. Braylon Culler also made a solid contribution on the boards with eight.
Lawrence ended the period by deking his defender with a crossover that led to a stepback 3-pointer, which bumped the lead to 63-44 going into the fourth.
“Braylon understands what his role is,” Jones said. “He has to be that guy who gets those extra balls and keeps it alive on tip-outs. He’s long, so he needs to be able to use length.
“We’ve got some other guys who can score. When you got guys like Daniel and RJ, most of our points are going to go through those two guys. But we have some younger kids coming up. But there is so many pieces to this game outside of scoring, and our younger guys are buying into that.”
Fort Osage coach Josh Wilson said he knew the 3-point line needed to be defended going into Tuesday’s game, but Blue Springs’ success from there was partly due to his team’s lack of execution on defense.
“We were waiting for that,” Wilson said of Lawrence and Parker taking threes. “They’re phenomenal players. They do a great job of getting open and knocking down shots. We weren’t able to execute a game plan. It’s either a mental lapse … or I didn’t have them ready to play.”