by John Unrein
A track meet broke out for the Grain Valley Eagles Boys Basketball team during their 66-24 win over Marshall on Tuesday, January 28th. Stripes easily could’ve been marked on the court prior to the game for fast break lanes. Dominance on the defensive boards by the Eagles led to quick outlet passes that spurred the transition game into full gear.
Eagles Head Basketball Coach Andy Herbert encouraged his team before the game to get their swagger back when it came to getting up and down the court.
“We had been playing sluggish lately. Getting the ball up and down the court fast was a priority. Josh (Kilpatrick) was a big part of that, not only running the floor, but using his vision to get the ball out to teammates ahead of him in transition,” Herbert said.
“It’s more fun to play the game at this speed. That’s how this team wants to play basketball. Sometimes you lose yourself in the monotony of the season and you must find yourself and the reasons why you play the game. I think you saw that tonight from us.”
Josh Kilpatrick was the leading scorer for the Eagles high octane offense. The senior scored 22 points to go along with his 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals.
Kilpatrick reflected on his team’s success after the game.
“We moved the ball better tonight. Thursday’s game was a tough one and that took us by surprise. Coach (Herbert) directed us tonight to take each game one at a time, stay together, and be willing to make the extra pass. Those directions paid off for us tonight along with getting to play with great teammates,” Kirkpatrick said.
A strong supporting cast in the Eagles win included Senior Guards Caden Matlon and Tristin Whitton. Matlon would score 13 points, and pull down 4 rebounds, to go with his 3 assists and 1 block. Whitton was perfect on the night behind the three point arc, going three for three. A made free throw as well would lead to Whitton’s 10 total points.
None of Whitton’s shots were as exciting though as his buzzer beater at the end of the first half from just inside the mid court line. The shot was timed perfectly as Whitton leapt off his left foot to complete the running jump shot.
Whitton explained what made up his success from behind the arc during the game.
“When I got the ball at the end of the first half, there was only three seconds left. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to get all the way down court. I pulled up, and when I let it go, it felt kinda good and then it went through,” Whitton said.
“My teammates delivered good passes to me in the shooting pocket tonight that led to open looks at the basket for me. The best thing about tonight’s win was (Gavin) Yao getting the bucket at the end.”
Grain Valley’s 60-16 lead at the end of the third quarter permitted Herbert to clear his bench. Senior Gavin Yao was among the group that got playing time during the fourth quarter. Yao is a foreign exchange student from China who learned English at the encouragement of his parents during his junior year prior to coming to the United States. It paid off as Yao received a near perfect score on the SAT this year.
His intelligence is apparent on the court as well. Yao received a pass with 1:40 left in the final quarter. A pivot to both the left and right looking for an open teammate to hit with a pass did not develop. Yao then decided to take matters into his own hands by driving to the basket to score a layup.
The student section became raucous with chanting jubilantly for Yao. Players on the bench for Grain Valley could also not hold back their happiness for what they witnessed.
Yao spoke about his love for basketball and scoring his first varsity basket.
“I started playing basketball in middle school. Boys would play against different classes and the competition along with the girls cheering for us got me hooked. I wanted to get on the court and draw praise,” Yao said.
“Bouncing the ball and shooting made me fall in love with basketball. Tonight, was the first point I scored in a varsity game. The inside was hollow because they closed out on us and I drove past them for the basket. That was so amazing.”
Herbert was happy for Yao and the rest of his team that came off the bench late to help cement the win.
“Gavin (Yao) got the ovation he did because he’s one of the friendliest kids you will ever meet. He’s a tremendously kind and genuine individual. He wants his teammates to succeed and keeps everything light with the things that we take for granted,” Herbert said.
“His exuberance is apparent in practices as well as games. He grabbed me around the shoulders recently and said we are amazing in his unique accent. As a coach you sometimes start thinking about the next game if the outcome is decided and Gavin reminds you to enjoy the moment.”
Senior Gavin Yao scored his first varsity basket in the fourth quarter against Marshall.
Photo credit: John Overstreet
Senior Caden Matlon finishes the fast break.
Photo credit: John Overstreet
by John Unrein
The Grain Valley Lady Eagles Basketball team applied consistent pressure in multiple ways to secure their convincing 62-23 win over the visiting Oak Grove Panthers in their opening game of the 22nd Annual Grain Valley Basketball Tournament on Monday, January 27th.
Head Coach Randy Draper’s Lady Eagles squad opened the game with a full court press on defense and steady substitutions in keeping fresh legs on the court that permitted a big early lead.
The strategy worked successfully as Grain Valley went into halftime ahead 39-6. The strain created by the Eagle’s press created turnovers and allowed for an up tempo transition game that led to several easy baskets. Eleven players on Grain Valley’s roster would go on to contribute points.
Freshman Grace Slaughter would lead all Eagle scorers with 12 points. Falling just one point shy of a double double was Senior Keely Hill with 11 points, 9 rebounds, and 1 assist to go along with 1 block. Draper emptied his bench with the outcome secured at the five minute mark of the third quarter. Otherwise, Hill would have likely hit the double double milestone.
Putting forth a strong effort for Grain Valley on the offensive boards as well as scoring in the post was Ella Clyman. The Freshman would rack up 8 points and 5 rebounds as her confidence continues to grow under the basket.
Both Hill and Clyman shared their thoughts on the win.
“Honestly, being aggressive tonight helped us in what use to be a really big rivalry against Oak Grove. Determination allowed us to be successful in the paint under the basket along with positioning for rebounding. Playing as a team tonight allowed an abundance of people to score points for us,” Hill said.
Clyman continued, “My teammates saw me tonight and made amazing passes feeding me the basketball. I couldn’t have done it without them. I think my efforts rebounding tonight definitely helped the team. I loved the way we played fast and pushed the ball in running the floor.”
Draper and his staff recognized that Oak Grove was looking to stretch the floor for three point attempts during the second quarter to chip away at the Eagles lead. Grain Valley countered with a 1-3-1 zone that pushed the Panther’s point guards and wing players significantly past the arc and stymied their offense. Both Juniors Jordyn Weems and Malia Guttierrez took turns at the top of the 1-3-1 zone in successfully harassing Panther dribblers.
Draper was pleased with the game plan put forth prior to the game and how it came to fruition.
“We talked in the locker room before the game that his team needs to play faster to free up some easy baskets for us. Our substitutions allowed us to keep things as fresh as we could. The intensity stayed high without us dropping off,” Draper said.
“We like to think that we can force you out of stretching the floor with that (a 1-3-1 zone) without pressing. It seems to make teams uncomfortable in taking away what they want to do offensively. I was very pleased with how we came out and maintained.”
Draper continued, “Weems and Guttierrez may not always score a lot, but they impact games unbelievably with their defense. They definitely greet you coming across half court. Hill was also great tonight. Keely (Hill) is one of the best defensive rebounders to ever play here. She’s at the top of her game right now at being an outlet passer with how fast she turns after bringing the ball down and getting it out of her hands up court. It starts our offense a lot of the time.”
Freshman Ella Clyman scores 2 points under the basket.
Photo credit: Valley News staff
Senior Keely Hill drains a 3 point attempt.
Photo credit: Valley News staff
The February Grain Valley Partnership Luncheon will be held Tuesday, February 4, 2020 at Faith United Methodist Church, 1950 SW Eagles Parkway. Networking begins at 11:30am; lunch begins at Noon.
The February luncheon will feature a
presentation by Square One covering social media best practices.
To register for the February luncheon, visit www.growgrainvalley.org.
A new community initiative from Truman Heartland Community Foundation (THCF), aims to help break the cycle of poverty by providing free job training for in-demand careers.
The Job Skills for New Careers initiative is a collaborative partnership with Community Services League, Herndon Career Center, Mid-Continent Public Library and University of Central Missouri (UCM).
“We believe these organizations bring unique assets to the table and by working together, we can help people get connected to the trainings and resources they need to get on the path to a better job and a brighter future,” Phil Hanson, President and CEO of Truman Heartland Community Foundation said.
Through this initiative, Community Services League will match applicants with financial counseling, community resources through Mid-Continent Public Library and opportunities for free trainings available through Herndon Career Center and UCM in fields that pay living wages and are in high demand in the region, including healthcare, other medical fields and skilled industrial trades.
Truman Heartland is hosting two informational sessions leading up to the launch of the first cohort in March. People interested in applying for job training are encouraged to attend one of these sessions. The first session will be held on Thursday, February 6, 2020 at 7 p.m. at the Mid-Continent Public Library – South Independence Branch, 13700 East 35th St S, Independence, MO 64055. The second will be on Monday, February 10, 2020 at 7 p.m. at the Mid-Continent Public Library – North Independence Branch, 317 US-24, Independence, MO 64050. These events are free to attend and open to the public. Children’s programming will be offered concurrently with both informational sessions.
Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis with the first cohort planned to launch in March. Visit newskills.cslcares.org to learn more and to apply for job training and support through the Job Skills for New Careers initiative.
Missouri's unemployment rate came in at 3.3 percent in December, and the state finished the year having added 20,000 jobs to the economy.
Missouri’s smoothed seasonally adjusted unemployment rate saw near record lows through the summer and fall of 2019, edging as low as 3.1 percent, but held steady at 3.3 percent for six months out of the year.
December marks the 41st consecutive month in which Missouri’s rate has been lower than the corresponding U.S. rate, currently 3.5 percent.
Five candidates have filed to fill three seats on the Grain Valley School Board. Incumbents Jeff Coleman, Tisha Homfeld, and Janice Reding have filed for re-election. Jeff Wolff and Justin Wulff have also filed as candidates.
The top three vote earners in the April election will be seated as School Board members for three-year terms beginning in April.
The election for both City candidates and school board candidates will be held Tuesday, April 7, 2020. In order to be eligible to vote you must be registered at your current home address by the fourth Wednesday prior to the election in which you wish to vote.
Residents may register in person at the Jackson County Election Board office at 215 N. Liberty, Independence, MO 64050 or any one of the authorized locations in this jurisdiction. Locations in Grain Valley include the Mid-Continent Public Library Grain Valley branch and Grain Valley City Hall. Residents may also print and complete the Missouri Voter Registration Application form found at the Election Board website, www.jcebmo.org, and deliver in person to JCEB or mail to Jackson County Election Board, P.O. Box 296, Independence, MO 64051.
The Grain Valley Board of Aldermen met Monday, January 27th, passing several resolutions and ordinances focused on maintenance of parks and area trails.
First on the agenda was an ordinance prohibiting parking on the west side of Pamela Blvd. and in front of the fire hydrants and mailboxes on the east side of Pamela Blvd. Interim City Administrator Ken Murphy indicated this ordinance was driven by complaints by businesses in the area. The ordinance passed unanimously.
A resolution related to trail improvements to the Dillingham Road connector trail was also passed. The project will connect two separate recreational trails on the east side of Dillingham Road, just north of Duncan Road. The project will run concurrently with the Community Development Department’s Dillingham Road Waterline Project. The City will realize some savings by completing both projects at the same time. The projected cost for the project is $9,272.
The purchase of 20 picnic tables to replace existing tables at the Pavilion in Armstrong Park and maintenance and replacement lamps at the Monkey Mountain baseball fields were also approved.
The City of Grain Valley will host an open house on Monday, February 3rd from 5:00pm—7:00pm in Council Chambers at City Hall for residents to meet informally with the design team for the proposed Grain Valley Community Campus.
Designs for the proposed recreation center, city hall, police department, and other Sni-A-Bar Farms site amenities will be presented in an informal meeting with citizens. Citizens are encouraged to share ideas and opinions with the design team; there will be no formal presentation.
Interim Deputy City Administrator Theresa Osenbaugh shared information regarding the event with the Board, stating that the informal event is an opportunity for residents to “be a part of the process”.
For more information on the proposed community campus, visit www.envisiongrainvalley.com.
The next meeting of the Board of Aldermen will be held Monday, February 10th at 7:00pm in Council Chambers at City Hall, 711 Main St.
by John Unrein
Miami, here we come. Fifty years of being displaced from professional football’s top game is over for the Kansas City Chiefs. Super Bowl LIV (54) will be played at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida on February 2nd at 5:30pm.
The last time the Chiefs were in the Super Bowl was on January 11th, 1970 during the fourth installment of the game named by Chiefs founder Lamar Hunt. Kansas City would defeat the Minnesota Vikings by a score of 23-7 to be world champions. Chiefs head coach Hank Stram’s offense was able to successfully matriculate the ball down the field under the guidance of “Lenny the Cool”, otherwise known as Len Dawson.
Fast forward to 2020, and the Chiefs have their work cut out for them against the NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers. They are led by head coach Kyle Shanahan.
You are not alone if the last name Shanahan rings a bell. Kyle is the son of former Denver Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan. The elder Shanahan has two Super Bowl rings on his hand from consecutive victories in Super Bowl’s XXXII and XXXIII (32 and 33).
Mike Shanahan has passed more on to his son Kyle than just being a winner. Kyle has learned from his father and mastered the art of the zone running scheme.
Anyone who watched the NFC Championship game witnessed the San Francisco 49ers shred the Green Bay Packers front seven on defense with inside and outside zone runs. Shanahan’s team got off the ball up front with purpose as his offensive line shredded the Packers defensive line and got to the second level against Green Bay’s linebackers with ease.
The 49ers would amass 285 rushing yards on 42 carries, leading to a robust 6.8 yards per carry average on their way to a 37-20 win over the Packers. San Francisco’s rushing performance was not far off their season average of 235.5 yards a game. Good for best in the NFL during the 2019 season.
The Chiefs, under the leadership of defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, will likely be working on bringing an eighth man into the box during game preparation in the form of strong safety Tryann Mathieu to solidify themselves against the run. This worked against the Tennessee Titans during the AFC Championship game as the Chiefs defense held Derrick Henry, the 2019 NFL season rushing champion, to just 69 yards.
San Francisco has countered against loaded eight man boxes by passing the ball in space to rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel and All-Pro tight end George Kittle. The chess game of the Chiefs implementing their defensive game plan and making adjustments as the game unfolds would be aided by Patrick Mahomes and the offense scoring an abundance of points.
Mahomes shared his thoughts after the AFC Championship game on the Chiefs making the Super Bowl and what it will take to win.
“Being able to win the Lamar Hunt AFC Championship Trophy here and do it for the fans of Chiefs Kingdom was awesome. Last year we fell short and we learned from it and have built every single day. Now we have the chance to go Miami and get the ultimate goal of winning the Super Bowl,” Mahomes said.
“If teams are going to put their attention on Tyreek (Hill) or (Travis) Kelce, we have a guy in Sammy Watkins (at wide receiver) that can beat your best corner. It’s huge to have Coach Reid. Being in the game and knowing that there’s going to be adjustments made matters because we have coaches who have been there before.”
Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid will be leading a team in the Super Bowl for the second time in his career. The last time Reid was at the summit of his sport was the 2004 season, when he took the Philadelphia Eagles to Super Bowl XXXIX (39), losing to the New England Patriots 24-21.
Reid has since adopted and implemented vast characteristics of the spread offense that make his team a matchup nightmare. The Chiefs were third in total offense and second in passing yards per game during the 2019 regular season. Kansas City averaged 419 yards a game on offense while heaving the football through the air for a 304 yard per game average.
Reid has indicated that the team will treat the week of January 20th as a full 49ers prep week and is looking forward to the challenge that lies ahead.
“We know that San Francisco is a heck of a football team. With all the distractions that present themselves (with the Super Bowl), we have to focus in and get ready to play against a good football team. That starts here with getting most of the game plan in this week (the first of the two weeks leading up the Super Bowl) while you’re in your own environment and keep things as normal as possible prior to getting down there (Miami) and all the different media obligations you have and things going on,” Reid said.
“Patrick’s legs help. They (defenses) have the ultimate respect for him. We are seeing one or two of our guys doubled as receivers on every down. If the defensive line misses or gets out of their lane a bit, then it opens up running space for number 15. I have confidence that our guys up front on the offensive line will rise up to the challenge this week with the quality of players they will be facing along San Francisco’s defensive front.”
The defensive line of the 49ers boasts five former first round draft picks. They are loaded with talent. The group includes former Chief Dee Ford, along with Nick Bosa, DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, and Solomon Thomas.
The quintet has afforded San Francisco to have the number one overall defense in yards per game allowed this season in the NFL at 252.5. Furthermore, they have been stout against the run only allowing a paltry 41.5 yards a game, good for best in the league this season as well.
The offensive arsenal that will attack the 49ers defense for the Chiefs is full of draft picks and acquisitions from the team’s former general manager. The same goes for the defensive side of the football.
Somewhere, John Dorsey is smiling. The list of current players that become Chiefs under Dorsey’s watch as general manager is impressive.
Starters Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Eric Fisher, Mitchell Schwartz, Dr. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Tanoh Kpassagnon, and Chris Jones round out the list. Dorsey definitely has an eye for the type of talent it takes to play in the National Football League. Hiring Brett Veach to work in the Chiefs front office also was not a bad move by Dorsey.
Veach has added to Dorsey’s shrewd roster moves as the current general manager of the team. Trading for Frank Clark along with the free agent signings of Anthony Hitchens, Damien Wilson, and Tyrann Mathieu have fueled a quick turnaround for a team that has transitioned to a 4-3 defensive scheme this season under Spagnuolo.
The Chiefs have shored up what use to be an Achilles Heel. Kansas City was ranked third in the league in rushing defense this season at 89.5 yards a game. Such seamless transitions are rare in the National Football League and typically take longer than one season; especially with the memory of Rex Burkhead of the New England Patriots running the ball across the goal line last year in overtime to end the Chiefs season in the AFC Championship game.
The United States has seen nine Presidents since the last time the Chiefs appeared in a Super Bowl. Cell phones, Homeland Security, DVD’s, space shuttles, iPads, ATM’s, and American Idol have become a part of the American fabric since 1970. Kansas City will be the home team in this year’s Super Bowl and will get to dawn the same red jerseys they wore in Super Bowl IV (4). Las Vegas has pegged the Chiefs as 1.5 point favorites in the game. The team has an awesome opportunity to bring the Vince Lombardi Super Bowl trophy back to Kansas City.
Photo credit: Lee’s Summit Tribune | Joey Hedges, photographer.
The Kansas City Chiefs have come a long way since their training camp preparation on the campus of Missouri Western University.
Photo credit: Valley News staff
by John Unrein
The Grain Valley Lady Eagles basketball team took an 11 point lead into halftime against a tough conference opponent in the Fort Osage Indians on Tuesday, January 21st. Grain Valley was initially unable to build a sizeable lead due to a Fort Osage team that played tough man to man defense and was efficient at moving the basketball for open looks with screens.
Junior Forward Jordyn Weems started the third quarter determined to stretch her team’s lead while also drawing the assignment of defending the leading scorer for Fort Osage in Junior Guard Kiyley Flowers. Weems was up for both tasks.
“My confidence is growing because Coach Draper gives me a job and I do it. Offense is not my special suit and I have been working to improve there. It seems like it’s starting to come together. Coming off my injury last year, I felt like a Freshman again at certain points early in this season,” Weems said.
“The challenge tonight defensively for us was not losing the player we were assigned to guard. We had good help off the screens along with being quick to recover if we were screened. My favorite part of the game tonight was seeing us relax at the start of the second half due to us getting up and down the court in transition as well as creating turnovers. It provided a confidence that calmed us.”
Weems would contribute 7 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 well timed steals. The decisiveness displayed with her passing, driving the lane, and stepping in front of passes to create turnovers fired up her teammates and Lady Eagles Head Coach Randy Draper.
“I was really pleased tonight with the way we played defensively. We got a couple of kids in (Malia) Guttierrez and Weems that are tough and athletic players that match up well against the good scorers of our opponents. Sound rebounding allowed us to sprint out in transition and get a couple of easy ones. In this game every easy basket is valuable,” Draper said.
“Weems is starting to figure out how to play to her strengths. She caught the basketball in places where she could hurt them and that got Grace (Slaughter) open more. It’s a bonus for us that teams are starting to have to worry about other people offensively when they play us.”
Freshman Guard Grace Slaughter drove the lane and worked for position under the basket while showcasing a drifting shot with her left hand; quite an impressive feat considering Slaughter is right handed and learned to shoot efficiently with her left hand due to an injury in middle school.
“I broke my right collar bone in sixth grade, and it required surgery. I now write with my left hand. For six months straight I was shooting the basketball left handed in the gym. It has allowed me to be comfortable finishing drives with my left hand along with drifting that direction shooting with my left hand,” Slaughter said.
“We knew tonight that Fort Osage was an athletic team. Kiyley Flowers was going to handle the basketball and shoot a lot tonight. Coach Draper preached staying on her, crashing the middle, and hitting the boards to prevent them from having second chances. Seeing Jordyn take off tonight was awesome. She played lock down defense at times on Kiyley (Flowers).”
Slaughter would score 28 points, pull down 8 rebounds, and contribute 1 block. The strength of play by both Weems and Slaughter assured the 53-32 win for Grain Valley over Fort Osage. The Lady Eagles improve to 10-4 on the season.
Up next for Grain Valley will be a chance at redemption when they host the Kearney Bulldogs on Thursday, January 23rd. Kearney is responsible for one of Grain Valley’s four losses. Draper provided insight on the importance of the upcoming game.
“Kearney is next for us. That’s one of our four losses. They beat us by twenty points last time. We are looking forward to the matchup again, and it will be a lot of fun. I love how much we’ve improved. It will be a challenge for us as they (the Bulldogs) are a really good team as well,” Draper said.
by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
Having read several Broadcasters this past week, I can assure you not only school, but life was very different in 1940. The school was apparently the center of everything social in Grain Valley, as every issue mentions at least one school dance or party. There was the school dance, the hayride, the school carnival, the Pie and Box Social and the Halloween Party, all within the first two months of school.
Also, school assemblies are mentioned frequently. From the back-to-school assembly during the first week to marionettes, the junior play, and a musical presentation, there was apparently an assembly every week.
During American Education Week, held the first week in November, there were daily topics which included the following: Enriching Spiritual Life, Strengthening Civic Loyalties, Financing Public Education, Safeguarding Natural Resources, Perpetuating Individual Liberties, and Building Economic Security. As I perused the topics, I found that although the topics are 80 years old, not much has changed. Or has it?
On spiritual life --“America was founded upon a spiritual foundation by earnest pioneers seeking to govern themselves and to worship God in their own way….great teachers of all faiths in schools, public and private, encourage religious feeling and practices as the foundation of moral conduct. The schools guide pupils to enriched spiritual living thru the development of character, the encouragement of right conduct, the opening of minds to new horizons, the practice of tolerance, a steady emphasis upon the sacredness of human personality, and a constant leadership in the search for truth, goodness and beauty.”
On civic loyalties –“Although government of the people, by the people, and for the people has not solved all our problems, who would exchange it for the tyranny and force which prevail today in so many parts of the world?”
On financing public education –“The public elementary and secondary schools of the United States cost 2 billion dollars a year (an average of $75 dollars per pupil).” Okay, so times have changed.
However, the final statement might still be applicable, “…millions are unemployed; hunger exists amid plenty; crime takes a vast toll; ill health ravages the underprivileged. These conditions need not exist in a wealthy nation. They can be corrected by improving the individual and promoting the general welfare, which the schools seek to do.”
On safeguarding natural resources –“There is still time to safeguard resources so that we shall have plenty if we consistently strengthen the conservation movement. The schools will be a mighty factor in this vital educational campaign.”
On perpetuating individual liberties –"Education perpetuates individual liberties by developing a people able to govern themselves and determine that America shall remain the land of the free and the home of a people unafraid of the duties that liberty entails.”
On building economic security – “Certain broad objectives are generally agreed upon as necessary, including (1) conservation of natural resources, (2) upbuilding of human resources, (3) extension of taxation according to ability to pay, (4) fair play between capital and labor, (5) social security, and (6) unemployment insurance….to help develop these qualities in all the people is the task of the schools.”
Learn more about the Grain Valley Historical Society at www.grainvalleyhistory.com.