Mark Spigarelli has coached enough Senior Nights at Blue Springs to know they often don’t bring out the best in a girls basketball team.
Take Thursday night, for instance.
Blue Springs didn’t spoil its Senior Night with a loss – the Wildcats led wire to wire in beating Lee’s Summit North 49-32 in their home gym – but they didn’t send their four seniors out with a sharply played outing.
More like a sluggish and distracted one.
“There’s usually a lot of distractions on Senior Night,” Spigarelli said. “Very few times does Senior Night go the way you want it to – it’s kids and they’re distracted by a lot of things.”
The starting lineup may have been a little distracting, adjusted as it was to put all four seniors – Jayla Sample, Abigail Grisolano, Aliyah Bello and Autumn Shull – on the floor with freshman phenom Jada Williams. Sample and Bello are normally starters, but Spigarelli did shuffle 12 players on and off the floor throughout the game.
That didn’t keep Blue Springs (18-5, 5-3 Suburban Big Six) from going up 16-4 in the first quarter and never leading by less than six points the rest of the way, but it did lead to stretches of sluggish and sometimes awkward play.
The Wildcats missed all of their free throws – six attempts – until the third quarter. They ended the first and second quarters with a chance to run down the clock and take the last shot but failed to get one off both times.
“I thought we didn’t have good defensive energy,” Spigarelli said. “We continue to struggle with our shot selection. I’m glad we did what we needed to do to get a win, but I’m concerned we’re playing very inconsistently at a key time of the year.”
Sample, who was one of three Wildcats in double figures with 10 points, felt that inconsistency as well.
“I feel like there were moments where we lost a little bit of focus,” she said. “We weren’t using our offense as well from a little lack of focus, but I felt like we picked it up and ended up bringing it back together.”
Lee’s Summit North (7-14, 2-6) pulled within 20-14 in the second quarter before a 3-pointer from Ja’Cole Johnson and a drive by Sample put Blue Springs up 25-14 at the half. The Broncos had 24 turnovers for the game, and that kept them from making another rally.
North did stay within 9-11 points until Blue Springs put the game out of reach with a 12-2 run in the fourth quarter. Williams, who led all scorers with 14 points, started the spurt with a midcourt steal that she turned into a nifty assist to Sample on a backdoor cut.
“One thing we’re good at is transition offense, and we’ve been slacking in that a little bit in a couple of our past games,” Sample said. “I felt like this game we really tried to pick it back up.”
Johnson finished with 12 points for Blue Springs, seven of them in the fourth quarter.
North, which lost to Blue Springs 60-44 in their first meeting Feb. 3, was led by Elauni Bennett with 10 points.