Hogan Prep wanted to run up and down the floor with Blue Springs South Friday night. Jaguars coach Josh Smith wanted to see his team play with a little more intensity and fire.
It turned into a lethal combination for the Jaguars.
South cranked up the defensive pressure, and that helped the Jaguars force 27 turnovers and find the energy to run and gun to a 68-35 victory in the Patterson Division nightcap during the 39th annual William Jewell Holiday Classic at the Mabee Center.
Smith thought the Jaguars needed a little spark after plodding to an 11-6 lead in the first quarter. He wanted to see end-to-end pressure on defense, and the Jaguars delivered.
The defense, in turn, delivered a slew of easy layups for the Jaguars.
“I didn’t like our energy level at times in the first half, and I thought we needed to try and speed up the game a little bit,” Smith said. “And by bringing some pressure, we not only created turnovers, but it generated some more energy from our guys.”
South (5-3) took control when it opened the second quarter with an 11-2 run fueled by Hogan Prep turnovers. The Jaguars forced eight turnovers in the quarter and kept the Rams scoreless nearly four minutes.
That run helped Jaguars take a 24-10 advantage late in the second quarter. Sophomore forward Jaylin McDaniel, who didn’t start after missing a Christmas Eve practice, scored the first five of his 13 points during the stretch as the Jaguars entered halftime ahead 26-13.
McDaniel had a putback slam during a 9-2 run to open the third quarter that pushed South’s lead to 35-15. Caleb Israelite scored nine of his game-high 14 points in the period, mostly on backcourt steals and layups. South led 51-25 by the end of the period and by as many as 33 during a running-clock fourth quarter.
“He did a lot of things tonight,” Smith said. “A lot of people want to see him throw down the highlight reel dunk, but he made some extra passes tonight. He has a really good understanding and feel for the game.”
The Rams (4-6) got 12 points from Sha’Marr Wright Thompson, but the Rams struggled against the Jaguars’ pressure. The Rams made only one of their first 10 shots while committing six turnovers in the first quarter. While the Jaguars defense was effective, they could only go up 11-6 after opening 2-for-13 from the field.
Blue Springs South will play Liberty at 1:30 p.m. Friday in the Patterson Division semifinals. Liberty advanced with a 67-63 victory over Oak Park.
Hogan Prep will play Oak Park 1:30 today in a consolation semifinal.