No contest: Titans dominate to stun Wildcats in sectional

Bill Althaus
The Examiner

There really wasn’t any need to ask Blue Springs girls basketball coach Mark Spigarelli for an assessment of the Wildcats’ jolting 62-44 Class 6 sectional playoff loss at Lee’s Summit West Wednesday night.

The look on his face said it all.

“We got our (butts} kicked tonight in every phase of the game,” Spigarelli said after the Titans used a 23-9 second-quarter explosion to take a 39-22 lead into halftime that was never challenged.

“West wanted it more. Their kids were diving for loose balls when our players were standing around watching. I was hoping tonight we would have our first complete, 32-minute game of the season where we did all the things we’re capable of doing.

“Well, a team played 32 minutes of solid basketball – but it wasn’t our team.”

With 42 seconds left in the game and the Titans playing a passing game to wind the clock down, Spigarelli walked over to the Titan bench, patted coach Jared Broughton on the back, shook his hand and returned to the locker room area wondering what happened.

Broughton, a graduate of Grain Valley High School and a member of the Eagles Hall of Fame, was grinning from ear to ear, pumping his fist in a victory salute to his team as the Titan faithful gave his 12-6 squad a standing ovation.

Broughton then walked into the West locker room, and was greeted with a screamfest that was reminiscent of early Beatlemania.

“We love Coach Broughton and we wanted him to know it when he and our other coaches walked into the locker room,” said senior guard Brooke Ellis, the mother hen of the young Titans team who remembers the stinging sectional loss the Titans experienced last year to the Wildcats at then Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.

“Everyone talks about how much Blue Springs wanted to go back to state because they were supposed to go to the final four last year and everything was canceled because of COVID,” Ellis, who finished with 10 points, added as her teammates celebrated in the background.

“But think how much we wanted to go to state this year after losing to them in this game last year. That has been my driving force all season. That’s what has pushed me to do everything I could to have a great season – to spend extra time in the gym, to be a leader on our team.

“This win means everything to me and our girls.”

She paused for a moment, and looked across the court at Broughton, who was with his family and was holding his young son Grayson.

“Coach has a family, and he spent so much time away from them watching film and scouting teams and doing everything he could to prepare us for this moment. I think we wanted this game more tonight than they did, and it’s all because of the hard work he put in to get us ready.”

Jada Williams, the highly recruited sophomore all-state guard, scored eight of her team-high 21 points in the first quarter as the Wildcats trailed 16-13 going into the second period.

That’s when the Titans exploded for 23 points with Bailey Burns, another sophomore sensation, coming off the bench to score six of her team-high 21 points. And, unlike Williams, she got plenty of help from her teammates.

“This is how it’s been all season for us when we’re successful – everyone contributes,” Broughton said. “I challenged our girls. We had to overcome a lot this season with all the COVID protocol (missing several weeks in February). We only played Blue Springs once, and they beat us.

“They were the tougher team that night, and I told our girls we have to be tougher tonight if we want to win, and we were the tougher team. Blue Springs is a great team and Coach Spigarelli is a great coach, but tonight we were tougher. We got every loose ball, we hit the boards, we played great defense, and we got the biggest win of the season.”

Tasia Johnson added nine points and Morgan Pietig and Cady Huffman had eight each for the Titans.

Kayleigh Jenkins added eight points for the Wildcats, who finished 16-6.