by John Unrein
The Grain Valley Lady Eagles basketball team put on a show against the Platte County Pirates with their 57-20 victory on Monday, February 24th.
Grain Valley was full throttle in the transition game. Senior Keely Hill and Freshman Ella Clyman were persistent in turning immediately after securing rebounds under the basket to find teammates who were out ahead of the opposition up court. Layups and open lanes to the goal was the reward for the Eagles’ hustle.
Grain Valley also applied tight defensive pressure. The result was 11 steals for the Eagles, who scored 39 first half points, while limiting their opponent to just 12. Head Basketball Coach Randy Draper’s squad stayed in front of the basketball at the top of the arc and on the wings, limiting Platte County’s ability to get their offense rolling.
Draper and his staff have placed a recent emphasis in practice on boxing out to secure rebounds. The work has yielded dividends for the Eagles as they were dominant under the boards.
“We’ve spent a lot of time blocking out. To win the games we want to win, and to go where we want to go, the other team should only get one shot. We are getting better. That matters because rebounding triggers offense,” Draper said.
“I think we do a great job of transitioning from offense to defense and vice versa. If you’ll rebound the basketball, it’s a lot of fun to play this type of style where you get to run. I’m proud of this team. We’ve come a long way, but we’re not done improving yet. We’re going to use this next week to prepare, and I look forward to that.”
Grain Valley Freshman Grace Slaughter led all scorers with 25 points, 20 of which came in the first half. Slaughter’s showing permitted her rest, as she along with the rest of the starters for the Eagles were able to take a seat on the bench at the end of the third quarter.
Slaughter’s ability to have a two way go with her drives to the basket is impressive. Her ambidextrous ability to dribble and shoot equally as well with her right and left hands limit the ability of the defender in front of her to favor a side.
Forward Jordyn Weems play was equally notable in Grain Valley’s victory. The junior compiled 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 steals in her team’s winning effort.
Weems is becoming more aggressive in her drives to the basket. Any positive angle that presents itself has led to Weems putting the ball on the floor more.
“From the get-go, Coach Draper told us to get after it tonight in preparation for upcoming district play next week. I was determined that we were going to start that now. I want to push my team so that we can keep advancing,” Weems said.
“I have been working at practice with our coaching staff on driving to the basket one on one. We are ready to get after it in district play.”
Draper acknowledged after the game that Weems is a good athlete for the Eagles and is starting to use that to her advantage.
“I am really happy with the play of (Jordyn) Weems right now. She’s going to play a crucial role in what we can get done late in the season. She is starting to find more ways to impact the game,” Draper said.
The Eagles are now winners of their last four (all against Suburban Conference opponents). They will take their 17-7 record into Class 4, District 14 play against Center, Oak Grove, Odessa, Pembroke Hill, and Raytown South.