by Michael Smith
The Grain Valley girls basketball team and star player Grace Slaughter received the gut wrenching news Wednesday.
The junior injured her left knee in the second quarter of a 42-40 loss against Blue Springs last Saturday. Three days after that, she was diagnosed with a torn ACL after an MRI, which will cause her to miss the rest of the season.
That’s a big blow for the Eagles as they will have to adjust their offense and defense after losing their star player.
The two-time, all-state selection was the focal point of the Grain Valley offense. She had a high usage rate and averaged 31.2 points per game.
Friday’s Suburban White Conference showdown at Fort Osage High School was the Eagles second game without Slaughter, and they have proven they still have enough talent to win games as they coasted to a 74-25 win over the Indians.
Grain Valley used a full-court press to create easy opportunities for baskets in transition and in their halfcourt sets, there was a lot of off-ball movement, screens and cuts to the basket to free up players for open shots.
“We know we are going to have to cut more and pass more, which is what we should be doing anyway,” Grain Valley sophomore guard McKenah Sears said. “We just need to move the ball quicker and quicker. Coach emphasizes moving the ball quickly and getting cross court passes.”
The full-court press helped the Eagles create 21 Fort Osage turnovers as the Eagles were still able to utilize their fast-paced style.
“We had to create more possessions so we could play more seamlessly,” head coach Randy Draper said. “The foot is on the gas right now. They are playing at a great pace. If you run, you’ll get it."
“It’s really fun to watch and it seems like we have been getting faster lately.”
And it’s that kind of effort that will be needed to help replace some of the production Slaughter had.
“We all miss Grace and know she is a big asset to our team,” junior forward Ella Clyman said. “We all know we all have to step it up and fill our roles and do the best we can.”
Meghan Knust has filled in nicely in the starting lineup through two games. On Friday, she showed her versatility, making a pair of jumpers and scoring inside for nine points.
“She’s really confident and we’re really proud of her,” Sears said of Knust. “She gets rebounds, and she can hit 3-pointers as a five (center).”
Sears led the Eagles with 15 points, followed by Clyman with 10 and Emma Ogle, Annabelle Totta, Knust each had nine.
Grain Valley sophomore Annabelle Totta sends a bounce pass to a teammate.
Photo credit: Michael Smith
Grain Valley sophomore McKenah Sears whips a pass to a teammate.
Photo credit: Michael Smith
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