Blue Springs South will now have some time to relax, reevaluate and regroup. The break couldn’t have come at a better time.
After starting out the season with three straight wins, South’s boys basketball team now has four straight losses after falling to Raytown 76-70 Friday night at South. The Jaguars can think about this one, and their 3-4 record, until they begin play Dec. 26 in the William Jewell Holiday Classic.
“There are some things we need to clean up, and there are some things we need to improve,” South coach Josh Smith said. “I told the guys it’s OK to be disappointed with this result, but we don’t need to be discouraged.”
Smith couldn’t be discouraged with the effort, even after the Jaguars had to play catch-up after losing a 12-point lead before halftime. And he couldn’t be disappointed by Khayden Hooks and Devin Tomlinson, who finished with 29 and 20 points, respectively.
The Jaguars just couldn’t catch up down the stretch.
“They got a few more rebounds, a few more extra plays than us,” Tomlinson said. “We still fought, we just came up a little short.”
South had the upper hand early, racing out to a 17-3 lead in the first quarter as Raytown (6-1) missed nine of its first 11 shots. The Blue Jays pulled within 20-16, but an 8-0 run by the Jaguars that included a step-back two and a three by Tomlinson put South back up 30-18.
That’s when Raytown’s shooting warmed up, especially from the perimeter as the Blue Jays kicked the ball out for open looks. They started getting transition baskets, too.
Raytown closed the second quarter with a 12-0 run for a 30-30 halftime tie, and opened the third quarter with a 9-2 spurt capped by two baskets off steals. The combined 21-2 run put Raytown up 39-32 and the Jaguars on their heels.
“I thought for the first 11-12 minutes the things we talked about needing to do to be successful, we had done a pretty good job of,” Smith said. “And then for whatever reason, we failed to do those things with any real consistency in the latter part of the second quarter. That allowed (Raytown) to turn the game.”
Raytown took a 55-50 lead into the third quarter, but South battled back to go up 64-63 on a layup by Hooks for his third straight basket with less than 3 minutes to play. Tomlinson, who combined with Hooks to score all but one of South’s 21 third-quarter points, drove the baseline for a 67-67 tie with 1:39 left. Raytown pulled away again before Tomlinson swished a three from the top of the key to pull the Jaguars within 71-70 with 40 seconds left.
But South missed two shots in the closing seconds, and Raytown made three of four free throws to hold the Jaguars at bay.
“It just happens a few times, I guess,” Tomlinson said. “We would have loved for (shots) to go down in crunch time, but you sometimes they just don’t fall.”
Aaron Franklin led a balanced scoring attack for Raytown with 15 points. Cortez Howlett had 14 for the Blue Jays and Karl Jackson, who made three 3-pointers in the second quarter, finished with 11.
That’s the kind of balance Smith would like to see from the Jaguars. Just another thing for them to think about over the next few days.
“We’re going to take a day off (today) to get some rest, get our minds right,” Tomlinson said. “Then we’ll look at our mistakes and fix them up with a good hard week of practice and redeem ourselves.”