More than halfway through its schedule, Blue Springs South walked into a hostile road environment Friday with an unblemished record — a mark that has drawn virtually no comment inside South’s locker room but plenty outside of it.
The Jaguars feature a trio of players capable of putting up 20 points on any given night, and all three flirted with that number Friday.
But for all the flare, all the undefeated chatter and all the highlight-reel ability, the Jaguars took an unconventional route to a 67-51 victory against rival Blue Springs.
Blue Springs South, 16-0, held the Wildcats to their third-lowest offensive output of the season.
“I think people just look at our team and think we have a lot of talent and we’re just going to outscore everyone,” said South senior Kevin Puryear, who scored 19 points. “But we pride ourselves on defense, as well. That’s how we win games.”
A capacity crowd ready to rock was instead treated to a well-orchestrated, fundamentally-sound defensive gameplan.
Was it flashy? Maybe not. Effective? Absolutely.
Blue Springs, 14-3, has relied much of the season on the combination of Kirk Finley and Tyree King. Finley poured in 24 hard-earned points against an oversized South frontline, but South limited King to one late fourth-quarter three pointer.
“They took away a big part of our offense in Tyree. That was the story,” Blue Springs coach Adam Jones said. “A lot of what we do offensively is built around Kirk and Tyree. I thought our kids played hard, but their kids defended us hard, too.”
The cliche game of runs never emerged. Blue Springs South’s march toward a double-digit win was methodical, if not perfectly-executed.
It used a 12-point first half from Brandon Kilgore, who finished with a team-high 20 points, to build a 34-24 halftime lead. It sunk 14 of 17 fourth-quarter free throws to preserve the edge. K.J. Robinson had nine points in the fourth quarter, seven of them from the line, to finish with 17 points.
In all, the aforementioned Jaguars’ potent trio accounted for 56 points.
“It was a tough game — they had a great crowd and a great environment,” Robinson said. “That’s why we just tried to focus on our defense and playing as hard as we possibly can on that end of the court, and it worked.”
The time to savor the rivalry win — which keeps Blue Springs South tied atop a formidable Suburban Gold Conference with Lee’s Summit — lasts less than 24 hours.
Blue Springs South will meet Webster Groves, the state’s No. 2 team, at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at Municipal Auditorium. In other words, that undefeated mark will be put to arguably its biggest test yet — not that the Jaguars have considered it from that perspective, of course.
“We’re trying to ignore all the noise,” Jaguars coach Jimmy Cain said. “I have not heard our guys even once talk about our record. I feel like the personnel on this team is just completely focused on continuing to get better.”