Seneea Bevley is known for being a quiet, hard worker on the court according to Blue Springs South girls basketball coach Kory Lower.
While she’s not much of a talker, she has a comedic side to her.
“Any time we talk to her, she pretty reserved,” Lower said of the freshman guard. “But the girls will tell you she’s got another side to her. Lauren Gillig told me one day that they were sitting next to each other and all of sudden Seneea is down untying her shoe and tying it to the other one. She’s got a goofy side to her.”
Unlike her antics that day, her game wasn’t a joke Thursday. The freshman poured in a game-high 16 points and Gillig added 14 to help Blue Springs South capture a 40-34 Suburban Big Six win over crosstown rival Blue Springs.
Bevley, who started the season as a spark plug on the bench, has become one of the Jaguars’ primary options on offense.
“Before I was starting, my job was to come off the bench and control the game,” Bevley said. “Now that I am a starter, I not only control the game, but I try to keep us going.”
Added Gillig: “It was good to have her come off the bench before because the other team wasn’t expecting her to come up big and she would make some big plays for us. It’s pretty nice that she’s able to do that for us. Now that she’s starting, she’s contributing even more.”
Bevley scored 11 of her 16 points in the first quarter to help the Jaguars take a 17-12 lead. She had a steal and a fast-break layup to go along with a pair of 3-pointers to highlight her big first quarter.
However, the Jaguars (11-5, 5-0 Big Six) went cold in the second quarter and didn’t have a single field goal in the period. In fact, the only shot made was a 18-foot jump shot from Blue Springs guard Jayla Sample. Despite mustering just three points in the second, South took a 20-16 lead into the break.
“The first quarter was big for us because we scored 17,” Lower said. “We went stagnant in the second but we still were able to have the lead because of our first-quarter start.”
The Wildcats started the third on a 6-2 run, highlighted by a pair of assists from Sample to Katy Knudsen, who made a pair of jump shots to put Blue Springs (6-7, 1-1) ahead 22-20.
The Jaguars countered with a 7-0 run with Gillig scoring all seven points to take a 27-22 lead.
“It feels good to hit shots for my team, especially in a high atmosphere game like this,’ Gillig said.
Wildcats sophomore Taitlyn Afualo sparked a 10-1 spurt with a conventional three-point play on a putback layup. Blue Springs junior Aliyah Bello, who finished with a team-high 13 points, capped the run with seven consecutive points, including a 3-pointer off her own rebound to put her team ahead 32-28 going into the fourth quarter.
The Wildcats, though, went cold in the fourth, missing all eight shots from the floor. Their only two points of the period came on a pair of free throws from Ja’Cole Johnson.
“(The Jaguars) do the little things and we don’t,” Blue Springs coach Mark Spigarelli said. “They box out and we don’t. They don’t give up second shots and they run the floor hard. They jump to the glass when they get a rebound. We don’t want to take the contact.
“There’s not a lot of difference in talent. We probably have more athleticism, but they currently follow coaching better than we do.”
The Jaguars took advantage and outscored the Wildcats 12-2 in the final period. A baseline floater from Bevley put the Jaguars up for good at 33-32. Logan Abernathy had a driving floater and a pair of free throws to make it 38-34, and Bevley sealed it with two free throws of her own.
“We challenged them from the end of the third quarter to the fourth,” Lower said. “I just said, ‘Your effort has to be better.’ (The Wildcats) were getting all the 50/50 balls and had a lot of offensive rebounds in the third. I think in the fourth quarter it was a little different. I was happy to see how we executed on the defensive end.”
Spigarelli was displeased with his team’s execution down the stretch as it passed the ball around the perimeter while down by four with just over a minute left. The Wildcats took 45 seconds to finally get a shot off and it missed with under a minute left.
“We spent 20 minutes working on a play yesterday and we act like we’ve never seen the play before,” Spigarelli said. “We let 45 seconds go off the clock like they were confused.”