Blue Springs South senior Kevin Puryear took a slow walk to his team’s bench Friday night, with both hands covering his face.
When Puryear removed them, he quickly glanced toward the scoreboard, which only confirmed the bad news — in a game featuring a pair of Division I recruits, foul trouble was turning him into a spectator.
“You just want to be out there,” Puryear later said. “But I can honestly say that I had a lot of fun just watching my teammates tonight.”
Indeed, a matchup of top senior recruits (Puryear, a Missouri signee, and Park Hill senior Landry Shamet, a Wichita State signee) was taken over by a pair of role players down the stretch.
Blue Springs South moved past Park Hill 74-65 in its home gym Friday, behind 25 points from Brandon Kilgore and 21 more from KJ Robinson.
Neither was featured in the pregame headlines. Those belonged to Puryear and Shamet. But Kilgore and Robinson stole all of the postgame talk after the Jaguars escaped with a victory, despite Puryear providing only eight points on two field goals.
“There were obviously known commodities on both teams that everybody is aware of,” Jaguars coach Jimmy Cain said. “But we really felt like the game was going to be decided by everybody else.”
And that boded well for Blue Springs South, which needed a second-half turnaround to offset a first-half spectacle from Shamet.
While Puryear was limited to only five minutes in the first half, Shamet never left the floor, and he lived up to his billing as the top-ranked senior recruit in Kansas City. Especially before halftime.
He poured in 16 points in the first half, and he needed only seven shots to do it. That production included a 13-second sequence in which Shamet recorded two emphatic blocks and turned both of them into buckets on the offensive end.
The impressive first-half concluded with his three-pointer at the halftime buzzer to give Park Hill a four-point lead.
That production, however, went unmatched after halftime. He was scoreless in the third quarter and finished with 21 points. And Park Hill, 3-1, suffered its first loss of the season.
“I did what I could in the first half to get my team the win, but I kind of let us down in the second half,” Shamet said. “I had to battle some cramps, but that’s not an excuse. I didn’t do what I needed to do to help my team win today.”
Shamet and Puryear separately acknowledged eagerness in the chance to oppose each other on the floor. But their postgame comments reflected more disappointment than satisfaction.
Instead, Blue Springs South, 3-0, showcased what it can do without Puryear rather than demonstrating its capabilities with him. In turn, the second-half standouts were Robinson and Kilgore, who combined to score 31 points over the final two quarters.
Park Hill senior Deionte Wilson scored 14 of his 21 points in the second half, too.
“(Puryear) is on the bench, but our main thing was just to play our hardest and try not to worry about what he’s doing,” Kilgore said. “If he’s not out there, that just means everybody else has to step up. That’s what we did.”