by John Unrein
The Grain Valley Eagles Boys Basketball team was hindered by a rebounding disadvantage and scoring droughts in each half during their 74-61 loss to the Raytown South Cardinals on Friday, February 21st.
The Eagles were persistent in obtaining rebound positioning throughout the contest only to have basketballs clutched above their heads or being seized by the opposition after bouncing on the floor in between players.
Grain Valley also witnessed empty possessions where they were patient with passing the basketball only to have no points to show for it, due to a lack of clean looks at the basket. This was a testament to the athleticism and defense displayed by Raytown South.
Leading scorers for the Eagles were Seniors Josh Kilpatrick and Caden Matlon who each provided 28 and 19 points respectively for their team. Kilpatrick’s efforts also yielded 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal for Grain Valley.
The Eagles exhibited competitive grit at the start of the second and third quarters. Junior Jaden Yung sank a three pointer with 5:48 left in the second quarter to cut Raytown South’s lead to 6 points by a score of 19-13.
That was followed by Matlon scoring 7 points within the first three minutes of the third quarter. Matlon’s determination brought the Eagles back to within 12 points and proved that Grain Valley could hang with Raytown South.
Matlon was never without the thought that his team was not in the game.
“It felt like we were going to make a push towards making it a game again in the second half. We got lazy with the ball at times in the first half and took some shots we shouldn’t of, including me. We learned that we can play with them. Especially, after getting blown out by them early in the season,” Matlon said.
“We are currently down two players (Senior Guard Tristin Whitton and Junior Forward Cole Keller) that we should have the next time we see them. It was discussed before the game that we keep control of our emotions with any situations that don’t go our way. We did a good job tonight with handling that and we are growing as a team.”
Grain Valley Eagles Head Basketball Coach Andy Herbert was judicious in his use of time outs, making sure that Raytown South never got on a big run. Furthermore, Herbert was active on the sidelines in vocalizing directions in what the Cardinals were about to do on numerous possessions.
“Our willingness to compete tonight was good. You always wonder if you can do it for 32 minutes straight. I thought in the Grandview game we did it as well,” Herbert said.
“After watching film of that game (Grandview), I told the kids it was meant to be a compliment, but for the first time we played those guys it was our fault, and it was not a situation where there was nothing we could do about it. It felt like in that game there was something we could’ve done, and it wasn’t out of our hands. The same thing tonight as well.”
“Jayden’s (Yung) three pointer is another feather in his cap. He’s a full fledged varsity player now, and he knows it. We waited to see tonight if they were going to come out and swing first. After Jayden and Caden’s (Matlon) efforts, we were ‘like wait a minute’ as a team. Against teams like that (Raytown South) and in any competition you can’t wait.”
Herbert finished, “Go compete and swing first. Hopefully, we proved to ourselves that we must make them beat us by forcing them to do the work. I am proud of our guys. We may get some players back. There were things in this game that we can do something about moving forward. That’s a good feeling to have. There have been a lot of positives for us in the last week.”