Last season, RJ Lawrence and Daniel Parker Jr, combined to average 45.8 points per game for the Blue Springs Wildcats. As a team, they averaged 65.9 points.
So, Parker and Lawrence accounted for nearly 70 percent of the team’s scoring during the 2017-18 season. Now, that they have graduated, head coach Adam Jones has attempted to find out how his young team will score during the 2018-19 season.
So far, it’s been a struggle.
That was evident Wednesday in Blue Springs’ first-round game against Staley at the William Jewell Holiday Classic. The Wildcats matched their lowest point total of the season in a 44-29 loss at the Mabee Center.
The Wildcats also had a 64-29 loss to Blue Valley West (Kan.) on Dec. 14. For the season, they have averaged just 44.9 points through nine games.
Blue Springs trailed 9-4 at the end of the first quarter and went into halftime down 16-13. Its 2-3 zone defense helped keep the Falcons’ offense at bay, as Staley shot just 6 of 20 from the field in the first half. However, the Wildcats only hit on 5 of 14 shots.
They led 4-3 midway through the first quarter after senior guard Jay’Von McKinney made a running floater; and at 10-9 following a free throw from sophomore forward Eli Wingert midway through the second. After that, Falcon senior Blake Proffitt made a putback layup to put Staley ahead for good.
“Their defense was good, we knew they were going to double team the ball screens,” Jones said of Staley. “I didn’t think we did a good job of getting to our secondary looks out of the double teams. We knew it was going to be open. Staley did a good job of rotating to the weak side to take away some of that stuff.
“Our youth showed today with our composure. We are trying to get through some of that stuff. Some of the stuff we can control is shooting from the free throw line, and we were 3 for 12.”
Staley got some momentum early in the third after David Lewis tossed an alley-oop pass to Byron Alexander, who threw down a thunderous dunk to make it 25-19. The Falcons went into the fourth up 30-23 and kept the offense rolling in the fourth quarter as they shot 6 of 11 from the field and outscored the Wildcats 14-6. In the second half, they shot 12 of 20 from the field.
Meanwhile, Blue Springs made just six field goals in the second half, including two in the final period.
Wingert led the Wildcats (2-7) with 11 points and eight rebounds. Justin Smith added eight points on 3-of-5 shooting.
“I like our group,” Jones said. “We have a lot of sophomores who are doing some good things, too. It’s a growing process. We’re trying to get better each day. They are resilient and play hard. We still have a long ways to go.”