It’s a new day for Principia Upper School boys’ basketball, with a new coach, new home, and a young, tight-knit core of players.
Even before christening the grand Bill Simon Field House with a win on January 28, keen observers of St. Louis area high school sports had noticed a change in the Principia program. The perennial Davids in a league of Missouri sports Goliaths—Westminster, MICDS, John Burroughs,and Lutheran North among them—were walking tall.
In hall of fame coach Jay Blossom’s first year leading the Panthers, he flipped the program on its head. After winning a total of eight games over the last two seasons, this year’s Panthers won their first nine straight, on their way to Principia boys’ first winning season in 13 years.
Led by a 6’9” senior and a quartet of freshmen, the young Panther team demonstrated a preternatural poise throughout the season and into the postseason, reaching the Missouri State Championship game for the first time in school history.
In the Finals, the Principia Panthers faced off against the Salisbury Panthers. After a hard-fought game that was deadlocked at 35 after the third quarter, Salisbury pulled ahead, eventually winning 55-46.
After the game, Coach Blossom spoke with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “This has been a special year,” he said, and credited his players: “They did something that’s never been done here and they should be really proud of it.”
Senior Ivan, attending Principia from Ukraine, concurred: “This season has been something incredible … I didn’t know what to expect, but when I met Coach Blossom and Coach Stallcup, it was the biggest gift I could ever get from life.”