Bruce stands tall to fuel Wildcats to rout of rival Jaguars

By Bill Althaus

Blue Springs guard Kyle Bruce stands just 5-foot-7, but after a night in which he executed the Wildcats’ offense flawlessly, 6-8 Eli Wingert and 6-6 Braden Appelhans were looking up to him.

“K.B. led us tonight, he led the offensive charge,” Wildcats coach Adam Jones said after his squad routed crosstown rival Blue Springs South 81-46 Friday night on the Jaguars’ home court. “He deserves all the credit tonight. Eli and Braden had big offensive games, but so much of their success was a result of K.B. and what he did at the guard position.”

The junior guard even had a no-look, behind the back pass to Appelhans, who turned it into a crowd-pleasing layup.

“I was expecting that pass, because that’s the type of game K.B. was having,” said Appelhans, who finished with four 3-pointers and 20 points. “K.B. was the man tonight.”

Wingert, who dominated inside and scored a game-high 28 points, shook his head in agreement.

“It felt great tonight,” said Wingert, who started the rout with 13 first-quarter points. “If we were open, we knew we were going to get the ball.”

As their teammates gathered around the trio, listening to their postgame interview, Bruce took his game up a notch.

“I’m like Kyrie (Irving, NBA star) in the finals,” he said as his teammates high-fived each other. “I was feeling it tonight, and it was an amazing feeling.”

Without skipping a beat, the soft-spoken Wingert added, “Then I’m K.D. (Kevin Durant).”

That drew more high-fives and grins. It was just one of those memorable nights for the Wildcats (17-4, 9-3 Suburban Big Eight), who have won six straight.

Blue Springs got off to a 21-6 lead on gritty defense and Wingert’s big first quarter.

An Ike Ezeogu dunk at 3:59 of the second quarter gave the Wildcats a 33-13 lead and they never looked back.

Long after the game had ended, and Bruce, Wingert and Appelhans had entertained their teammates with their post-game comments, Blue Springs South coach Josh Smith stood under the east basket in the South gym patiently waiting to answer any question tossed his way.

“This was a game where you give all the credit to your opponent,” Smith said after the Jaguars had a three-game win streak snapped and fell to 11-9 and 8-4, including two losses to the Wildcats. “They dominated this game in all aspects, and that is disappointing. This is a game you want to remember – remember what it feels like to lose like this – but you don’t want to dwell on it. 

“We need to clean some things up and keep working hard. And we will.”

Not one to make excuses, Smith never mentioned that 6-6 senior forward Devin Tomlinson missed the game with a knee injury.

Dallas Whitney led the Jaguars with 13 points and Sonny McCreary added 12.