Republished from the Jefferson City News Tribune
SEDALIA — O.G. Anunoby’s illustrious career at Jefferson City High School ended with another double-double Wednesday, as the 6-foot-7 Indiana signee scored 21 points and nabbed 11 rebounds.
One number, however, had Anunoby wishing for a do-over.
Twenty-two, the number of times the Jays turned the ball over.
“Yeah, it was real frustrating. Just,” he paused, rubbing his hands together. “It was so frustrating.”
After playing third-ranked Blue Springs South point-for-point in the first half, the Jays fell 57-42 to the Jaguars in a Class 5 sectional contest at State Fair Community College.
“We made some uncharacteristic mistakes,” Jays coach Blair Thompson said. “We had too many unforced turnovers, and that led to baskets by them. They’re a good transition team, but we kept battling.”
Anunoby had seven turnovers himself. Though the Jays won 10 of his final 12 games, the senior would have taken a few more.
“We weren’t happy with it, because we wanted to keep going,” he said. “But you know we did something that we haven’t done in a while. We won a district championship. So we’re happy with that, but we wanted to go farther.”
The Jays, whose last district title was in 2010, finished the year 18-9.
“It was a great season,” Thompson said. “We accomplished a lot of things this year. Would have liked to have one or two or four more (wins), but we gave ourselves a chance and took it, and it just didn’t go our way.”
The Jays started off strong, jumping out to a 7-0 lead capped by a monstrous block of John Rolls by Anunoby, who hit a 3-pointer on the other end, forcing Blue Springs South to call a timeout. Briley Moore-McKinney rattled home two free throws on the next possession to get the Jaguars on the board 4:31 into the game, but the Jefferson City lead was up to 10-2 less than a minute later.
Blue Springs South found its footing, however, closing the quarter on an 8-2 run when Rolls hit a shot 1.7 seconds before the buzzer.
Brandon Kilgore converted on three free throws to start the second quarter, and the Jaguars had their first lead at 13-12. Blue Springs grabbed the biggest lead of the quarter at 20-16 but Seth Stegeman’s first basket of the game sent the teams tied into halftime.
The Jays held Kevin Puryear, a University of Missouri signee, to just two points on eight shots in the first half. Eysan Wiley, giving up four inches of height, guarded Puryear early and led all scorers going into the half with eight points on 4-of-5 shooting.
“Eysan’s given up a lot of size the last two games and done a tremendous job of guarding those big guys,” Thompson said, “and that allows us to kind of move guys around later, depending on who’s in foul trouble and who’s not and keep fresh guys on (Puryear). But Eysan came out and got really an extra spark on the offensive end as well.”
Puryear stormed out of the locker room, however, slamming home a dunk of the first possession of the third quarter and providing the first four points of an 8-0 Jaguar run in the first four minutes of the quarter. Blue Springs South worked the lead up to 10 on a Kilgore field goal, and though the Jays pulled within eight on back-to-back 3s by Stegeman and Anunoby, they would get no closer the remainder of the game.
The Jays were outscored 20-12 in the third quarter with Puryear scoring eight. The Jays turned the ball over eight times in the quarter and allowed 17 points off turnovers overall.
The Jays shot just six free throws on the night and never reached the 10-foul automatic bonus.
“Blue Springs South, they’re a good basketball team,” Thompson said. “A lot of weapons. It’s tough to play behind against them, because their guards can handle the ball and burn some clock off. Overall it wasn’t our sharpest performance, but I thought we played super, super hard.”
Anunoby’s 21 points and 11 points were both game highs. Kilgore led the Jaguars with 19 points, nine of which came from the line. Puryear finished with 14 points on five-of-13 shooting. Moore-McKinney chipped in 10 points.
Isaac Roling and Devont’e Brown’s careers at Jefferson City also came to a close Wednesday. Thompson hopes the team’s success this year will help next year’s squad avoid the rough patches that led to a 3-5 start this season.
“Being around the program, as good a group of seniors as we had here, they can always learn from them a little bit, and they’ve got a taste of what it takes,” he said. “They know what our expectations are. They’ve seen it, and it makes it a little bit smoother. Maybe less time getting that stuff. It makes the transition for them next year a little bit smoother. Maybe we can get off to a little quicker start.”