Though Blue Springs South’s boys had decisively beaten Rockhurst a month ago to win their own McDonald’s Tournament, playing the Hawklets in their raucous State Line Road environment presents a whole different mental animal.
After Rockhurst landed a solid early punch in Friday’s showdown, South responded to lead at halftime, withstood the Hawklets’ furious push to end the third quarter and successfully toed the free-throw line throughout the fourth to salt away a 58-52 win.
While improving to 11-1, the fifth-ranked Jaguars also snapped ninth-ranked Rockhurst’s (11-3) eight-game win streak.
“We knew we had to stay tough,” South coach Jimmy Cain said. “They would make runs, and we had to weather those runs. Every run they went on, you really saw some determination by our kids.
“That was a great test for us on the road, and I really like how our kids responded to that test.”
Rockhurst’s biggest run came in the third quarter, after it went scoreless for the first 4:42 after halftime, missing six shots from the field, two more at the line and committing three turnovers in the process. Meanwhile, South slowly turned a 30-25 halftime edge into the game’s biggest advantage at 37-25.
But Michael Jones and Kyle Wolf accounted for a 10-0 run by the Hawklets, capped in the final half-minute by Wolf’s putback and Zach Nelson’s transition feed to Wolf for a buzzer-beating layup.
South’s Carl Martin quelled the momentum by driving and converting a three-point play to start the fourth, pushing its lead to 40-35. Two minutes later, with the score at 42-37, a no-call on Kevin Puryear’s defense of a Wolf shot drew enough response from Rockhurst coach Mark Nusbaum that he was whistled for a technical foul.
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