The Blue Springs boys basketball team had a heartfelt reason to start its home game against Park Hill inspired Friday evening. Longtime football and basketball PA announcer Gary Singleton unexpectedly died Wednesday.
To honor Singleton, who has been announcing games for 40 years at Blue Springs, there was a moment of silence, and then the first quarter was played without any announcing.
On the court, the Wildcats made plenty of noise, scoring 20 points and jumping to a 10-point lead, and that carried them to a 74-59 victory. The win lifted Blue Springs to 10-2 overall. Park Hill dropped to 7-5.
“That is what Gary would have wanted 100 percent,” said Blue Springs coach Adam Jones. “Our kids knew we had two tough tasks ahead of us tonight. One was the passing of a legend here at Blue Springs, and the second was how good Park Hill really is.
“I thought our kids handled both situations perfectly. We did a professional job coming out honoring him, and then we played really well tonight.”
Blue Springs scored the first six points in the game, starting with a basket from junior Tyree King, which signaled a hot start from him. Senior Korey Wilson followed with two free throws, and senior Justin Hall hit a 10-footer for the quick 6-0 lead.
It was the hot outside shooting of King that helped the Wildcats extend their lead. He made three three-pointers in the first quarter. His third one sent Blue Springs into the second quarter with a 20-10 lead.
“When we found out he (Singleton) passed away, that lit a fire in our hearts, and we needed to go out and play for him,” said King, who finished with a game-high 22 points.
The Wildcats pushed their lead to 30-15, and then Park Hill fought back. The Trojans closed to a 31-24 on a three-pointer by junior Dru Smith.
“We defended,” Jones said. “The shots they made were tough looks. That triggers our group. If we can get rolling on the defensive side and transition, we can be OK.”
Blue Springs went back to playing solid defense and was able to go into halftime ahead 39-28.
Park Hill had one more run at the start of the third quarter. The Trojans closed to 41-35. Hall didn’t allow the Trojans to get closer. His basket made it 43-35. Hall finished with 19.
The definitive moment for Blue Springs to close out the game came late in the third quarter. King drilled his fourth three-pointer, and Hall followed with a dunk that gave the Wildcats a 52-39 lead. Park Hill never got closer than 11 points the rest of the game.
“We just clamped down on defense,” King said. “That’s how we get most of our points. It starts at the defensive end.”