by John Unrein
The Grain Valley Eagles boys’ basketball team could not capitalize on opening the first and second quarters with 4-0 and 7-0 runs, respectively against the Platte County Pirates on December 11th. The Pirates leaned on accurate shooting and attacking the basket in transition to secure the outcome by a score of 60-47.
A rotation between full court press and the 2-3 zone defense is what the Eagles would rely on to try and stymy the Pirate attack led by Jarett Mueller. The junior guard would lead the Pirates with 22 points scored. The physical game on the court saw both teams make several trips to free throw line. The White (Grain Valley) and Blue (Platte County) Division Suburban Conference rivalry continues to grow between the two schools.
Grain Valley’s offensive output would be led by guard Jayden Yung and forward Cole Keller. Yung’s stat line would include 17 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 steal. Keller matched his counterparts support by producing 25 points, 14 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 5 blocks. Keller has delivered a double-double in his first two outings of the season for the Eagles.
Yung was more aggressive in seeking to score points this time around compared to his first game. Keller, on the other hand, picked up where he left off previously in being Grain Valley’s leading scorer and force in the post both offensively and defensively. Both Grain Valley seniors reflected on their individual efforts and what the focus will be moving forward in their postgame comments.
“This was a tough opponent tonight and I felt that I needed to step up after playing a little timid in our first game. It’s my senior year and I got to play some varsity basketball last year. That should help me transition to being more than just a role player this season,” Yung said.
“I feel more confident going into competition this season. I want to help this young team grow and push our potential.”
Keller added, “We continue to adjust to the speed of the game and improving our decision making. This is only the second varsity basketball game for some of our team. Every practice we are improving.”
“This was a fast paced game tonight. We may take our lumps early on (this season), but that will smooth out over time.”
Eagles head basketball coach Andy Herbert was pleased with how his team pushed the ball in transition and looked for scoring opportunities inside. This allowed Grain Valley to encounter some easy shots on basket.
Defensively, Herbert acknowledged the Eagles had to communicate and switch frequently with how they guarded Platte County. A duration of strong defense by Grain Valley during Pirate offensive possessions would occasionally see a breakdown late in the sequence that led to Platte County scoring opportunities. Furthermore, Herbert was glad his team got to face a high caliber of competition against the Pirates this early in the season.
“Sometimes it is a young player defensively having to learn to stay aware for that long or being out of position that can lead to the other team scoring. That being said, I thought we did a lot of good things in the first three quarters before our youth showed itself later in the game,” Herbert said.
“Jayden (Yung) did a good job tonight. He was in foul trouble our first game and didn’t have the chance to get going in an offensive rhythm. Tonight, he was what we needed him to be. He is strong, skilled, and smart on the court. We tell him all the time, ‘two feet and two hands,’ and when he plays with balance on the basketball court, he is really good. I was happy to see him attack and find success.”
“We will move on and learn from tonight. This game was a good experience for us.”
Herbert finished, “Cole (Keller) is a stud. He is going to be guarded physically and he kept his composure and focus on what matters. He showed by example tonight how to conduct yourself on the floor.”
“We look forward to working through the rocky parts that occur in a season (like this game) to get back to the happiness that comes from winning. This group is willing to learn and our team fought tonight against good competition. That’s part of the process of understanding how to win.”
Grain Valley will host the Truman Patriots at 7:00 pm on December 18th.
Sports coverage is provided by Captain's Sports Lounge, opening January in Grain Valley!