Even after a skin-of-the-teeth victory, the Blue Springs girls basketball team was in no mood to celebrate Monday.
Sure, the Wildcats pulled out a nail-biter, holding off Raytown 49-46 in the semifinals of the Class 5 District 14 tournament at Raytown High School, but the way they did was just too ugly to be enjoyed.
“We’re fortunate we’re still alive right now,” Blue Springs coach Mark Spigarelli said. “The best team this time of year doesn’t always win it, but the best team mentally does. And we were not good mentally tonight.”
And that was a problem against a scrappy Raytown team that Blue Springs (21-5) never could put away.
Blue Springs almost did, taking a double-digit lead in the third quarter and a 40-29 advantage early in the fourth. But the Wildcats made turnovers and bad shot selections and the Blue Jays started making baskets.
Im’unique White got Raytown going with a couple of 3-pointers early in the fourth quarter as the Blue Jays whittled away at Wildcats’ lead. Raytown pulled within 46-43 when Blue Springs got the ball with 1:40 left and tried to run some clock.
Instead, freshman guard Jada Williams slipped and lost the ball, and Raytown’s Stevi Yancey took it down court for a layup. White drew a foul on the Blue Jays’ next possession and sank one of two free throws for a 46-46 tie with 23 seconds left.
But in the closing seconds, Blue Springs senior guard Jayla Sample made one of two free throws after getting fouled driving the lane, the Wildcats won a mad scramble for a loose ball with the possession arrow in their favor and senior guard Aliyah Bello made two free throws to ice it.
“It was kind of rough,” Sample said. “We did not really play our best. Everybody knows that and we just thank God that we won.”
Blue Springs led 9-7 after the first quarter and 20-18 at halftime after a back-and-forth second quarter. Williams, who led the Wildcats with 15 points, scored six of them as the Wildcats opened up a 33-23 lead midway through the third.
Raytown closed within 36-29 by the end of the third quarter, and would soon make it closer.
“I think we made enough plays and I like what we did down the stretch,” Spigarelli said. “But they had a crack at beating us because of some decision-making down the stretch.”
White finished with 17 points to lead Raytown, which ended its season with a 13-12 record.
Blue Springs, the district’s No. 1 seed, will meet Truman 5:30 p.m. Saturday in the final.