Truman coach Steve Cassity wasn’t surprised to see Blue Springs South make things interesting down the stretch Monday night. He kind of expected it, really.
That comes from being around girls basketball a long time, long enough to know the Jaguars weren’t dead and buried despite the Patriots’ late double-digit lead.
“Blue Springs South’s a great team,” Cassity said after the Patriots hung on for a 56-51 victory in the semifinals of the Class 5 District 14 tournament at Raytown. “You know they’re going to make a run. In postseason basketball you kind of expect it.”
Truman (16-10) led wire to wire and held a 44-31 lead with just over 2 minutes to play when South came to life. Struggling from 3-point range the whole night, the Jaguars suddenly started hitting from long range. And when the Jaguars put Truman at the line, the Patriots responded by missing nine free throws.
So when South reserve Hannah Smith popped the third of her three treys in the quarter, the Jaguars found themselves within 50-48 with 54 seconds to play.
“It’s a bad formula for holding a lead,” Cassity said. “We can’t make free throws and they’re making threes. But in the end we made enough of them.”
Credit Truman senior Deon Monroe for that. Monroe scored 13 of her team-high 19 points in the fourth quarter and 11 of those came at the free throw line. Monroe went 5 of 6 from the stripe in the final minute.
“I was a little nervous,” Monroe said. “But the feeling in my head was put these in because free throws win games.”
So does good defense, and Truman was masterful in slowing down South with a zone that collapsed on Jaguars senior forward Lauren Gillig and denied driving lanes for guard Jaidynn Mason. It was even more effective as the Jaguars struggled behind the arc. Going into the fourth quarter, South was 3 for 17 on 3-pointers.
That helped Truman jump out to an 18-11 lead after the first quarter and it helped them stay up 23-20 at halftime despite being held to five points in the second quarter.
“(Truman’s zone) was very effective,” Blue Springs South coach Kory Lower said. “We struggled all game trying to figure out what to run against it. They really made us shoot tough shots and stand around.”
Urya’ Williams scored 14 points and Taliyah Scott added 13 first-half points for Truman, which will play Blue Springs at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Raytown for the district title.
Mason had 16 points and Smith added 12 to lead South. The Jaguars, who spent much of the season ranked among the Class 5 state top 10, tied a school record for victories in finishing 19-7.
“It’s hard to be too upset,” Lower said. “I think we maybe overachieved from what people thought of us to start the year. I wish we could have finished this one differently but I’m proud of them.”