The Blue Springs boys basketball team had a chance to earn a share of the Suburban Big Six championship.
But it wasn’t going to be easy.
The Wildcats were up against Raymore-Peculiar team that held opponents to 46.4 points per game coming in and held the opposition below 40 points eight times. That’s really good defense.
Blue Springs found out first hand how good the Panthers’ defense was in a 73-48 loss Friday at Ray-Pec. The win gave the sixth-ranked Panthers (22-3, 9-1) the conference title.
“I think we had a good game plan, we just struggled to execute,” Blue Springs coach Adam Jones said after his team fell to 14-10 overall and finished 7-3 in the conference. “We had some good looks early and just didn’t make shots. We lost confidence after the first half.
“A lot of credit goes to that 20-win team over there.”
Most of the Wildcats’ points came in the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach. Ray-Pec led 24-16 at halftime before ballooning the lead to 43-24 going into the final period.
Blue Springs scored 25 points in the fourth period, but it was too little, too late.
“They have length, they are smart and they are well-coached,” Jones said of Ray-Pec. “They have seniors that know how to play the game. And we have sophomores that want to know how to play the game.
“I am proud of our kids. We’re still growing as a team.”
The Panthers clogged the lane, making it difficult for Blue Springs to score down low. Any time a Wildcat drove to the basket, 6-foot-7 forward Kian Scroggins altered and blocked shots.
“In the past, we have had teams that have been able to score,” Ray-Pec coach Scott Jermain said. “But to be able to be a championship team, we have to be able to defend. They bought into that.”
His team isn’t too shabby on offense either as the Panthers exploded for 49 second-half points. Senior guard Jordan Jermain led the way with 23 points and Scroggins added 13.
“Those guys have been a 1-2 combo,” the elder Jermain said of his son and Scroggins. “They have been great and they love each other.
“Those guys take a lot of attention, but the guys around them are just as important.”
Blue Springs will look to rebound from back-to-back blowout losses in the Class 5 District 14 Tournament. The Wildcats are the No. 3 seed and will take on second-seeded Truman in the semifinals on March 6.
“We had way higher expectations this year,” Blue Springs sophomore guard Kyle Bruce said. “We wanted to win conference, then districts then make a run to state. We can still win districts.
“We need more energy and need to score more on fast breaks and get more layups.”
Sophomore forward Ikenna Ezeogu led Blue Springs with 19 points and Bruce finished with 15.