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