Blue Springs junior Justin Hall took flight from a couple of steps in front of the free-throw line, and his ascent carried him to the basket. The ensuing one-handed dunk slipped through the net as he nullified a shove from behind.
Against a Raytown team with a decided height advantage, it was a shooting guard who threw down a big-man’s dunk.
And it was Blue Springs that again came up with the big plays down the stretch.
The Wildcats remained unbeaten with a 53-50 victory Tuesday against Raytown in the championship game of the Patterson Division in the 35th annual William Jewell Holiday Classic.
Raytown guard John Burton launched a desperation three-point attempt at the buzzer, but it clanked off the side of the rim and fell to the floor.
Blue Springs got 18 points apiece from Kirk Finley and Tyree King.
“We’re feeling it. We’re clicking right now,” Finley said. “We’ve been playing together for a long time. It just comes down to believing in each other.”
Blue Springs never trailed after the first quarter — a statistic not indicative of the tightly-contested game. It also never led by more than nine.
Finley buried a pair of free throws with 12 seconds left to push a one-point advantage to three, setting up Raytown’s frantic final possession, which resulted in a deep look from Burton.
A year after finishing 14-12, Blue Springs improved to 9-0.
“I think our kids have done a great job of embracing this run,” Blue Springs coach Adam Jones said. “They’re to the point where they would’ve been disappointed if we didn’t win this game. But at the same time, they also understand it’s a long season, and we still have to get better at some things.”
The effort Tuesday night was enough to overcome a 17-point outing from Raytown senior Brandon Sublett, who poured in 11 points in the final quarter.
It was also enough to overcome its height disadvantage.
Raytown, 2-5, hinged its offensive output on twin towers Jailen Gill and Derrick Walker, who stand 6-7 and 6-8, respectively. An effective strategy. The duo combined for 22 points and 17 rebounds.
Raytown had the size. Blue Springs owned the versatility.
And that’s been a key element in the undefeated stretch.
“We’ve got some options. We’re not just relying on one guy,” Jones said. “Our seniors, juniors, sophomores and even freshmen are giving us a lot of options, and that’s comforting to have.”