KANSAS CITY, Mo. — You just had a feeling it was going to come down to which star player was going to make the last shot.
And it did.
Blue Springs South’s standout guard KJ Robinson drained a deep 3-pointer from the left corner with 2 seconds left to give the Jaguars a heart-stopping 71-70 Hy-Vee Shootout victory over McPherson High, ending the Bullpups’ winning streak at 44.
The last Bullpup loss had come to Wichita North in the first round of the 2014 McPherson Invitational, which turned out to be the only loss of that state championship season.
No matter what happens the rest of the Shootout, nothing will top this. Robinson’s trey, which completed a 31-point night, was part of his 12 points in the fourth quarter.
As good as he was, MHS’ Drew Pyle was even better. The 6-3 senior poured in 37 points, which tied Brad Underwood and Brian Henson for the fourth-highest single-game total in Bullpup history. What made his effort so impressive was the myriad of ways he scored, using both hands to finish at the rim, yet torched it from the outside with four 3-pointers. His performance certainly will go down as one of the greatest in the 21 years of the event.
MHS coach Kurt Kinnamon knew that the Bullpups had stood toe-to-toe in a matchup of teams that won state championships last year, the Jaguars’ coming in Missouri’s largest class.
“Every one of those guys who played in the game gave it everything they had,” Kinnamon said. “So I’m proud of that. The game didn’t end the way we wanted... but I wouldn’t trade getting to coach my kids for having to coach anyone else because I think our kids for the most part act the right way and do the right thing... I’m really proud of how our kids competed.”
This one will be shipped off to ESPN for an instant classic. The teams traded bombs throughout the first half, with a late South surge enabling it to take a 34-33 lead at the break. The Jags scored the final five points before intermission.
Pyle and Robinson spent the third quarter trying to one-up the other. Pyle had his full arsenal on display with 11 points, missing just one shot, while Robinson rained three treys for nine points. MHS was up 50-49 heading into the fourth.
A couple of times late it appeared the Bullpups might just have the upper hand. They were up 63-58, but a missed free throw and two costly turnovers allowed the Jaguars to score six straight points to lead 64-63.
Back came MHS, though. A Pyle basket off a steal and his two free throws pushed MHS back in the lead 67-64 with 1:02 to go.
Perhaps the critical point in the game came in the closing seconds. There was a loose ball on the floor and it appeared to be a tie-up, which would have given the possession to MHS. But the officials ruled the Jags had gained possession as Briley Moore-McKinney got a timeout with 5.5 left.
The Jags set some nice screens for Robinson, whose foot appeared to be just outside the line for the winning three instead of the tying two.
The Jags’ physical play inside was a key as MHS gave up some offensive rebounds that led to second-chance opportunities, though the teams were deadlocked in that category.
Ben Pyle scored 15 for the Bullpups. Moore-McKinney, who is being recruited to play football at Missouri, was a load for MHS on the inside as he scored 13 points and pulled down 12 rebounds. A key for South was the play of backup Mike Jones, who scored 13 points off the bench as he was 4 of 4 from the field and 5 of 5 from the line.
“It’s just disappointing,” Kinnamon said. “I thought our kids played extremely, extremely hard when you look at the number of minutes they played. Fantastic and what a great effort. I talked in the locker room and Drew talked in the locker room that if we play that hard, we’re going to have a pretty good year.”
MHS is now off until Jan. 5 when it plays at Winfield.
MHS (70) — McDaniel 3, Labertew 5, Loecker 7, D. Pyle 37, B. Pyle 15, Seidl 3.
Blue Springs (71) — Moore-McKinney 13, Robinson 31, Ferneau 8, Connors 3, Jones 13, Ravenkamp 3.