In the midst of a 20-game unbeaten streak to open the season, Blue Springs South coach Jimmy Cain preached the one-game-at-a-time mantra — all the while knowing his team had its sights set on much greater achievements.
It was early last summer when the Jaguars established a goal to win the Missouri Class 5 state championship, and it was shorty thereafter Cain implemented the necessary tools to follow through.
The Jaguars practiced multiple defensive sets nearly every day, even though they used only a portion of them during the regular season.
The rest? They saved those for the playoffs.
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They came through, too. A constant switch between an extended zone look and man-to-man defense keyed Blue Springs South’s 71-57 victory against Park Hill South in the state championship game.
“We kept telling the guys (that) in the postseason, this is going to be a huge weapon for us,” Cain said. “They played it really well — not only (in the state championship), but the entire postseason.”
The consistent defense from a defensive-minded coach helped the Jaguars to their first state championship in program history.
For his part in leading them there, Cain is The Star’s All-Metro boys basketball coach of the year.
The Jaguars won 20-plus games for the fifth straight season. They withstood a brutal path to the state title, defeating four teams with Division I recruits along the way.
“Our defense was the one thing we had all year. We defended really well on a consistent basis,” Cain said after winning the state title. “That’s one of the things that impressed me most — the way they always responded on that end of the floor.”