by Michael Smith
The Grain Valley boys basketball team couldn’t stop him.
The Eagles had their Suburban White Conference game under control as they led Truman 31-19 at halftime. But in the second half, that outstanding first half was erased by a red-hot Truman sophomore guard James Minks who went off for 21 on all 3-pointers in the second half to send the game to overtime.
However, Grain Valley was able to overcome the late momentum gained by Truman thanks to the stellar play of Rhylan Alcanter, Keegan Hart and Reece Troyer in overtime to come away with a 57-53 victory Tuesday at home.
“We did enough defensively in overtime to slow them down a little bit,” Grain Valley head coach Andy Herbert said. “We made key free throws and got key rebounds down the stretch.”
The Eagles began the extra period on a 4-0 run that was highlighted by a coast-to-coast layup from Hart and a pass over the top of the defense from Troyer that resulted in an Alcanter layup. That made it 51-47 before a conventional 3-point play from Truman Dallas Winda cut the advantage to one point.
On Grain Valley’s next possession, Troyer drew a double team on the low block, hit Alcanter with an underhand pass for a wide open layup for a 53-50 lead. After an empty possession from Truman, Troyer hit a pair of free throws to put the Eagles up by five.
Truman had a chance to tie after senior Griffen Hernandez made a 3-pointer and Winda got fouled after getting a steal on the Grain Valley inbound pass. He missed both of his free throws as Hernandez missed two three down the stretch and the Eagles made 2 of 4 free throws to seal the victory.
“It’s demoralizing to see your 12 point lead go down to being tied and being sent to overtime,” Grain Valley senior Nick Hooper said. “I thought we controlled (Hernandez) and (Minks) in overtime and we needed to do that to have a chance to win.
“We got to our shots and didn’t play into the defense.”
Alcanter had a big impact for Grain Valley after having to sit out most of the first half because he had two fouls, including a technical foul he picked up early. Even so, he still managed to pour in a team-high 17 points and grab 11 rebounds for a double-double.
Troyer, who got the chance to start with the Eagles rotation players being out with injury, made the most of his opportunity by coming up with two huge assists and two free throws in the extra session.
“He showed a lot of poise and did some great things overtime,” Herbert said of Troyer.
The junior said he’s excited about the opportunity.
“It means a lot. I am just trying to do my job and help the team out any way I can,” Troyer said. “If my time comes, I am ready for it.”
Hooper scored eight of his points in the first quarter to help Grain Valley take a 16-8 lead and the Eagles pushed the advantage to 31-19 at halftime. That’s when Minks took over and made seven threes to help Truman cut the lead to 39-34 going into the fourth and tie it at 47 at the end of regulation.
“We started the third quarter horribly and that set the tone for the second half,” Herbert said. “Minks got hot and couldn’t miss then we were in trouble.”
Truman even took a 47-45 lead late in the fourth after Winda connected on a baseline jumper. Alcanter tied it on the Eagles’ penultimate possession of regulation on a hook shot and Hooper had a chance to win it with a corner three but missed.
It didn’t matter though as the Eagles made enough key plays in overtime to come away with the win.
Grain Valley junior Reece Troyer prepares to shoot a free throw.
Photo credit: Michael Smith
Grain Valley senior Nick Hooper scored 11 points in a 57-53 overtime win against Truman.
Photo credit: Michael Smith