by John Unrein
The Grain Valley Eagles Boys Basketball team dropped the third-place consolation game to the Van Horn Falcons on Saturday, February 1st by a score of 83-64. The number one seated Eagles finished fourth in their 22nd Annual Basketball tournament.
The three-point shooting and athleticism of the Falcons along with a scoring barrage by Junior Guard Jaden Monday proved to be too much for the Eagles to contain. Monday led all scorers with 29 points. The athletic ability possessed by Monday in driving to the basket and finishing was paramount in the Falcons win.
Grain Valley worked diligently at the outset of the game to match their opponent. Josh Kilpatrick gave his team the lead with three minutes left in the opening quarter after consecutive buckets under the basket and a subsequent three pointer. The lead did not hold for the Eagles as the first quarter ended in a 19-19 tie.
The second quarter saw Van Horn effectively stretch the floor and work to find open looks for three-point shooters. Turnovers by Grain Valley led to easy transition baskets at times for the Falcons. Grain Valley went into halftime down by a score of 37-31 and would not regain the lead.
Eagles Head Basketball Coach Andy Herbert praised Van Horn and discussed his team’s effort after the game.
“We knew defensively that we had a tall order in front of us. We talked prior to the game that they were going to make some shots and that we couldn’t let it affect us. We did a decent job of that in the first half. Offensively, we played simply in the first half. We took what was there and has some success. We were the reciprocal of those things in the second half,” Herbert said.
“Things were difficult in the second half and we didn’t compete like we should have. Monday is a very talented player for them. We started to push in wanting to help the outcome and forced things. We need to find some composure.”
The second half saw a lid on the basket for Grain Valley at times as several shots bounced off the rim. Kilpatrick was the leading scorer for the Eagles with 27 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists. The senior worked to post up in the second half and get close attempts at the basket. The effort yielded two trips to the free throw line and accounted for four of Kilpatrick’s points.
Kilpatrick reflected on things that went right for the Eagles as well as his team’s opportunities for improvement after the game.
“The first half, we had guys cutting, we moved the ball well, and we got some easy baskets. The second half, Van Horn did what we did early on, and we let them do what they do best. They drove the ball to the goal, kicking out the basketball after offensive rebounds and scoring. At the end of the day, you must move on to the next game,” Kilpatrick said.
Guard Seth Dankenbring drew a bevy of minutes and had the tough task of defending against Van Horn’s backcourt. The Senior would finish with 8 points, 2 rebounds, and 1 steal in trying to aid his team.
Dankenbring was concise with his words after the game in sharing his opinion on what would help his team moving forward.
“We definitely need to improve our defense and moving the ball better as a team. There were good moments today by us where effective passes yielded productive shots on the backside of their defense. Overall, we need to get in the gym and practice more,” Dankenbring said.