Jaylon McDaniel had a point to prove – to himself, his teammates and coaches and fans of the No. 1-seeded Blue Springs South boys basketball team.
The sensational sophomore, who is already getting Division I looks, was coming off a disappointing five-point performance against a gritty Grain Valley team in a 57-55 Jaguars semifinal win in the Class 5 District 14 tournament.
“I felt like I had something prove today,” said McDaniel, who was a one-man highlight reel as he scored 24 points, threw down a half dozen tomahawk slams and led the Jaguars to a 68-53 victory over Raytown in the district title game Saturday afternoon at Truman High School.
“I came out today with a lot of energy and my teammates got me the ball. My teammates helped keep my head up after my performance in the semifinal game, and I knew my teammates and coaches would need a better performance from me if we were going to win today, and I was so happy and blessed to come through for them.”
The game was a nail-biter for three periods as the 18-8 Jaguars led 13-11 after one period, 14-13 at halftime and 38-34 going into the final quarter.
“I think our zone bothered them in the second half,” coach Josh Smith said after his Jaguars advanced to a 6:30 p.m. sectional game Wednesday against a 24-3 Lee’s Summit North squad at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
“And we scored 30 points (30 to 19 for the Blue Jays) in the fourth quarter, and that certainly helped. We had the right players at the free throw line.
Caleb Israelite was 9 of 10 from the line and the Jaguars shot 18 of 22 from the line in the fourth quarter.
“And, of course, Jaylon was a completely different player today,” Smith added. “He was just outstanding. He had a tough game against Grain Valley, and all his teammates and the coaches let him know how much we care for him and what he means to this team and he really responded.”
While McDaniel is often a marquee player, Israelite is the glue that keeps the Jaguars together.
“We knew we had to play a great game to beat a team like Raytown and we did,” the senior point guard said. “I wanted the ball on the free throw line at the end of the game and my teammates were able to get it to me.
“And we were all so proud of Jaylon. He has a season worth of highlight dunks in one game. And when he gets one of those special dunks – and he had a lot of them today – it just energizes everyone on our team.”
Aubrey Martin led the Blue Jays with 14 points. Israelite finished with 15.