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Wildcats' 'mad' guard makes Jaguars pay in Blue Springs' 12-point victory

By Bill Althaus
bill.althaus@examiner.net

Jada Williams has a pregame routine with her fellow Blue Springs backcourt mate Ja’Cole Johnson.

“I try to make her mad,” said Williams, grinning from ear to ear, “because when that girl gets mad, she plays some great basketball.”

Johnson must have been fuming Thursday night at home, as a vibrant and socially distanced crowd of Wildcat and Jaguar fans served as the perfect backdrop for Blue Springs’ 47-35 Suburban Big Eight win over crosstown rival Blue Springs South.

Blue Springs guard Ja'Cole Johnson (4) drives the lane against Blue Springs South defender Saneea Bevley in Thursday's game at Blue Springs High School. Johnson scored a game-high 18 points to lead the Wildcats to a 47-35 win.

Johnson scored a game-high 18 points, including eight free throws in the fourth quarter.

“I wasn’t mad,” Johnson said. “I just wanted to get them back after they beat us earlier this season. I love to play defense. I know how important it is to our team, and our coaches have us shoot a lot of free throws.

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“Early in the season I wasn’t very good, but I have a lot of confidence in my free throw shooting now.”

Blue Springs led 21-20 at halftime, but the backcourt duo of Williams and Johnson was simply too much for the Jaguars.

Johnson controlled the defense, while Williams was flawless in running the offense for the conference-leading Wildcats (13-5, 9-1), whose only league loss was to the Jaguars (66-60 on Jan. 28).

Any time the Jaguars made a run, the Wildcats had an answer Thursday.

Blue Springs scored the first nine points of the third quarter, with Johnson hitting a 3-pointer and short jump shot, while Williams added two jump shots.

Blue Springs South's Jaidynn Mason (2) collects a rebound over Blue Springs' Jada Williams (24) in Thursday's game at Blue Springs High School. Mason scored 15 points but the host Wildcats claimed a 47-35 win.

The Jaguars then scored seven consecutive points to make the score 30-27, but coach Kory Lower’s team could never whittle into the deficit the remainder of the game.

Johnson hit eight free throws in the final period to ice the key conference win.

“It’s a big win as far as district seeding goes, because the higher seed plays at home in the new format this year,” Blue Springs coach Mark Spigarelli said. “We played well enough to win, and we did beat a very good South team that beat us the last time we played them, but we have to play better if we want to have a successful postseason.”

The Jaguars had a chance to cut into the Wildcats’ conference lead but fell to 13-6 overall and 7-4 in the Big Eight.

Blue Springs South's Saneea Bevley (23) goes up for a shot against Blue Springs defenders Ja'Cole Johnson, left, and Camryn Collins (22) in Thursday's game. Blue Springs took a 47-35 win to avenge a loss to the Jaguars earlier this season.

“It was a big game for seeding, and we just didn’t play very well tonight,” Lower said. “We had a lot of trouble shooting 3-pointers, and that has been a strength for us this season. We’ll get back to work tomorrow. We need to finish strong and play much better than we did tonight because we could see Blue Springs again at district.”

Williams finished with 13 points.

Jaidynn Mason, who battled foul trouble in the first half, led the Jaguars with 15 points, the lone Jaguar in double figures. Tiyani Rollins finished with nine.

Blue Springs South's Tiyani Rollins (22) takes a hand to the face from Blue Springs defender Symiah Bradley, center, as Jayla Cornelius (34) looks on in Thursday's game. Rollins scored nine points but Blue Springs claimed a 47-35 win.