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Appelhans' big shots help Wildcats rally

By Bill Althaus

With 3:31 left in the third quarter of Wednesday’s game with Park Hill South, Messias Dockery scored his ninth point of the quarter to give the Panthers their first double-digit lead over Blue Springs.

But the 46-35 deficit didn’t rattle the host Wildcats, who methodically went to work and chiseled down that deficit until it was 53-50 with 4:50 left in the fourth quarter.

That’s when Braden Appelhans connected on his fourth 3-pointer of the night to give the Wildcats all the momentum they needed to earn a 61-56 non-conference victory that put a smile on the face of everyone wearing purple and gold.

“We don’t get rattled or shook up,” said forward Ike Ezeogu, who dominated inside play and scored a game-high 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds. “We all have faith in Braden. I even tell him he needs to take more shots.

“When he hit that three, I knew that was it. I knew we were going to win that game.”

Appelhans, who finished with 16 points, agreed.

“We got the early (13-4) lead and they came back and really dominated the third quarter,” Appelhans said of Park Hill South’s 18-11 advantage in the period. “But we just don’t panic. We have a lot of talent on this team and great coaches and we all thought we were going to win the game.”

The Wildcats (12-4) turned the table on the Panthers in the fourth quarter, outscoring them 18-8 to earn the hard-fought win.

“I am so proud of these guys,” said Wildcats coach Adam Jones, whose team bounced back from a tough 69-68 conference loss to Park Hill on Tuesday. “We showed a lot of poise tonight and never really got frustrated out there. Mike (Harrison) got a couple of big steals late, Ike got a steal and we didn’t allow them any points on their last four possessions.

“That’s the way to come back and win a game against a very good South team.’

With the score tied at 53, Eli Wingert scored back-to-back buckets to give the Wildcats a 57-53 lead they never relinquished.

“We really had a strong fourth quarter,” said Wingert, who finished with 11 points and six rebounds. “When we play like we did tonight, really play like a team, we’re going to be hard to beat the rest of the season.”

Ezeogu finished with a layup and four free throws and joined Harrison with a couple of big steals down the stretch.

“Everyone who played, played a role in this win,” Jones said. “I’m proud of the guys tonight.”