by John Unrein
It took overtime in a highly competitive and physical game for the Grain Valley Eagles Boys Basketball team’s season to come to an end on March 3rd. The Center YellowJackets surged ahead with under a minute remaining in the extra period to come out on top of the Class 4, District 14 matchup by a score of 46-42.
Neither team could get the point margin to spread in their favor past three points by the end of each quarter in regulation. Grain Valley did a good job of switching all night long on ball screens while on defense until late in the game. Fouls committed by the Eagles permitted the YellowJackets to stretch their lead with made free throws at the end of the contest.
Grain Valley was hampered by a figurative lid on their basket with numerous shoots drawing iron before leaving the cylinder. Seniors Caden Matlon and Josh Kilpatrick led Grain Valley’s offense with their scoring efforts. Matlon contributed 16 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals in his final game as an Eagle. Kilpatrick garnered 12 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal in a noteworthy effort.
Matlon shared his thoughts on his team’s performance and what it has meant to be an Eagle Basketball player after the game.
“We played our hearts out. We wanted to win more than anything because we didn’t want this season to end. Shots that didn’t fall during a hard fought game led to the outcome,” Matlon said.
“This season was special in that I got to play basketball with all the kids I grew up with: Seth (Dankenbring), Josh (Kilpatrick), Triston (Whitton), AJ (Salisbury), Gavin (Oyler), and Cole (Keller). Those guys are my best friends.”
Matlon concluded, “this coaching staff is full of great people. They always wanted the best for us. I can’t think them enough for the hours of film they watched and making sure we were always ready to compete.”
Eagles Boys Head Basketball Coach Andy Herbert was proud of his team even in defeat. Hebert spoke to how much he enjoyed his time coaching the seniors on his roster.
“We did such a good job defensively in what was a physical grind for 36 minutes. To get the things done that we got done, it would be hard to ask for anything more. The last play of the game during regulation when they tied it, we were a little late in getting back to the corner defensively. Center was able to get to the baseline and score,” Herbert said.
“I don’t know what else you could ask from a group of sixteen to eighteen year old kids in how they battled through things all year long. The word persistence comes to mind. This senior class changed the course of our program. They believed in each other and gave so much in showing what a group that plays together can do.”