It wasn’t pretty, and it had its moments of despair, but Blue Springs South boys basketball coach Josh Smith will take his team’s 70-67 victory over Lee’s Summit West Tuesday night on the Titans home court.
“It’s not a beauty contest – it wasn’t pretty – it’s a basketball game, and anytime you beat a team like Lee’s Summit West we’ll take it,” Smith said, after five Jaguars scored in double figures to overcome a near disastrous 6-of-15 shooting from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.
“This is one of those wins you can learn so much from. We weren’t very good from the free throw line, and we had too many turnovers, but we still managed to find a way to win, and winning is so important at this time of the season.”
The Jaguars took a 54-45 lead into the fourth quarter and pushed it as high as 12 points, but point guard and defensive anchor Caleb Israelite went down with a sprained right ankle at the 5:31 mark and that seemed to spark the Titans, who used a trio 3-pointers by Tysen Brennan to get back in the Suburban Big Seven Conference contest.
With 11 seconds left in the game, West’s Rich Johnson hit a long-range 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 69-67 and South’s Johnny George was fouled on the inbound pass.
The junior guard hit 1 of 2 free throws to account for the final score and West could not get off a game-tying 3-point attempt as the buzzer sounded to end the game.
“I knew I had to make at least one of my free throws,” George said. “I wanted to make it a 3-point lead. I wish I would have hit them both, but there was only a second left in the game, and they really didn’t have the chance to get a good look at the basket.
“They’re a good team. They gave us all they had, and we had to overcome a lot to win the game.”
As George talked about the victory, Israelite hobbled out of the locker room with an ice bag taped to his ankle.
“I’ve never had a sprained ankle, so I don’t know what’s going on or how long I might be out,” Israelite said, “I just know I was proud of the guys for getting the win. I knew my guys would get it done out there.”
Khayden Hooks led the Jaguars with 16 points, followed by Israelite with 12, Jaylon McDaniel with 11 and Cade Berg and George finished with 10 each.
“Some guys raised their level of play when Caleb went out with the injury,” Smith said, after his team improved to 15-6 and 5-1 in conference. “Cade Berg drew three charges in the game – those are the things you don’t see in a box score and those are the things that help you win a game like this.”
Brennan and Tayven Glasgow led West with 17 points each.