According to Blue Springs boys basketball coach Adam Jones, the Wildcats felt better after their close loss Friday afternoon than they had after their close win Thursday.

According to Blue Springs boys basketball coach Adam Jones, the Wildcats felt better after their close loss Friday afternoon than they had after their close win Thursday.

Jones said the Wildcats were disappointed with their effort in defeating Lincoln Prep 57-54 Thursday afternoon at William Jewell College to start Cardinal Division play in the American Family Insurance Holiday Classic. But they were pleased with their effort in forcing Park Hill South to grind out a 49-44 semifinal win Friday.

“We’ve been talking about character and challenging our character all year long,” Jones said. “We got down 10 there late in the game (today) – and our kids kind of stepped up and said, ‘We can get back in this game.’ And they did.”

Indeed, the Wildcats – who trailed 12-8 after one quarter and 21-17 at halftime – found themselves behind by double digits late in the third quarter. Trailing 39-31 at quarter’s end, they posted a 10-2 fourth-quarter run to tie it 41-41. The Panthers then edged the Wildcats 8-3 down the stretch to put themselves in Saturday’s division title game with Liberty North and send the Wildcats to the third-place game against Smithville, scheduled for noon Saturday at William Jewell.

“We showed a lot of fight,” Jones said. “But if we want to get to the caliber of the Park Hill Souths – those teams that are winning lots of games, and a lot of those teams are in our conference that we’re going to get to play – we’ve got to get over the hump and continue to find consistency.”

Junior guard Walter Sorrells, who paced Blue Springs with 11 points, has noticed inconsistency, too. The Wildcats (5-4) have only “shown spurts of … being a team that can compete with the highest,” Sorrells said.

“We have the potential to compete with the best teams in the state,” he said. “It’s just up to us to figure out what we’re going to do.”

There are some specific issues the Wildcats must address if they want to reach their potential, such as “rebounding and taking care of the basketball and not turning it over – things that teams can control within themselves,” according to Jones.

Blue Springs also must stay healthy, as Friday showed. The Wildcats were without senior Jay Corwin, who suited up, but had to sit out because of the flu.

“It’s tough when you don’t have one of your best shooters in the game,” Jones said.

By contrast, the Panthers were pleased to be at 8-1 as they prepared to play for the division title, according to South coach Rick Zych. But they weren’t looking too far into the future, he suggested.

“We’ve got to take tomorrow tomorrow,” he said.