The plan was for Blue Springs South coach Jimmy Cain to do most of the talking during a late-February practice, but senior Kevin Puryear said he couldn’t manage to stay quiet.
So in a discussion centered around the Jaguars re-discovering their momentum after suffering their second loss of the season, Puryear interrupted his high school coach, stood up and delivered his own message.
“I just told everyone (that) I’m not gonna go out like this,” Puryear later recalled. “I knew we could do something. I wanted to play for a state championship.”
A month later, Blue Springs South coach Jimmy Cain referred to Puryear’s speech as “the defining moment for us this year.”
“These guys were on the same page and walked out of the meeting feeling like we were ready to go,” Cain said.
Indeed, they were.
Blue Springs South didn’t lose another game. It ran the table in the Missouri Class 5 postseason, culminating in the program’s first state championship in school history.
The Jaguars, 29-2, defeated Park Hill South 71-57 in Saturday’s championship game at Mizzou Arena. Afterwards, Puryear described the motive behind the speech to his teammates a month earlier.
“I hate to lose. I hate anything less than success,” he said. “Three out of my four years, we’ve come up short. The motivation this year was to get a state ring. From the end of last season, I started working out two weeks after the season was over. All that was on my mind was a state ring.”
Puryear, a Missouri recruit, was certainly a primary reason the Jaguars finally claimed one. He led the team with 20.5 points and eight rebounds per game this season.
And he was blessed with a productive supporting cast.
Brandon Kilgore was the primary offensive catalyst in the state title game, scoring 23 points in 26 minutes on 8-of-11 shooting.
KJ Robinson added 15 points Saturday, two shy of season average, and will be the leading scorer to return for the Jaguars, who will graduate seven seniors. Those seven accounted for 66.8 percent of the team’s scoring this season.