Blue Springs boys basketball coach Adam Jones didn’t mince words when talking about his team’s 74-35 loss to Bentonville (Ark.) in the first round of the Blue Springs School District Tournament Thursday at Blue Springs South High School.
“We acted like we really didn’t want to compete with them,” Jones said. “I didn’t like the way we came onto the floor, and I didn’t like our energy. We just got our tails beat in tonight.”
The Wildcats (1-3) had a tough time navigating Bentonville’s zone defense and weren’t able to get much penetration to the basket. They scored just eight of their 35 points in the paint and shot just 13 of 40 (32.5 percent) from the field.
“We didn’t do a very good job of getting our feet under the basket,” Jones said. “Bentonville did a good a good job defensively, but we didn’t have the will to get in there. We work a lot in practice on getting under the basket and using the dribble drive for passing and shooting opportunities.
“Today we just stood there and watched each other dribble the ball. We acted like we didn’t belong on the floor tonight.”
Meanwhile, the Tigers shot a blistering hot 17 of 26 (65 percent) from the floor, including 7 of 11 (63 percent) from behind the 3-point line. Bentonville jumped out to a 26-5 lead in the first period. Stefan Black II sank a 3-pointer and Justin Smith hit two free throws to account for all of the Wildcats’ first quarter points. Blue Springs didn’t get any closer than 20 the remainder of the game. It trailed 47-19 at halftime and 70-28 going into the fourth, which prompted a running clock for the entire final period.
The Wildcats had trouble containing Bentonville’s Michael Shanks, who did a little bit of everything and finished with a game-high 22 points. Guard Connor Deffebaugh added 14 points and and Josh Smith had 12, including a trio of 3-pointers.
Kaden Spruell led Blue Springs with eight points and Black added seven. The 2018-19 version of the Wildcats had a new look. For the past few years, Jones has had players who could create their own shots and drop 20-plus points on any given night. This season, the Wildcats don’t have a player like that, so quality teamwork will be a key for them to have success, Jones said.
“The strength of our team is when we share the basketball,” Jones said. “With our makeup last year, that’s wasn’t the strength of our team. This year, when we share the ball, we look good.
“Today we were stagnant and there was no ball movement from side to side. Bentonville is good but we didn’t do much to combat what they did.”