by Michael Smith
Sometimes the outcome of a basketball game comes down to the little things.
That’s what Grain Valley head boys basketball coach Andy Herbert said following his Suburban White Conference game against the Raytown Blue Jays.
The game was a tight one through three and a half quarters, but after Grain Valley tied the game at 48-all midway through the fourth period, Raytown went on a game-deciding 7-0 run that helped it top the Eagles 62-55 Friday at Raytown High School.
Grain Valley had three occasions from the 3-minute mark in the third period on where entry passes to forwards Stylz Blackmon or Rhylan Alcanter went awry and were out of the reach of the big men, which resulted in turnovers. There were also a handful of missed layups in the fourth quarter, which allowed the Blue Jays to pull away. Raytown also helped close it out 7 out of 9 free throws.
“In a game like that, there are so many possessions that add up,” Herbert said. “It comes down to the little things – taking care of the ball and blocking out and rotating defensively. That’s where the game is won.”
“Raytown did a good job making free throws down the stretch. We missed a few opportunities at the basket. We had our posts in a good position, we just couldn’t get it to them. We have to clean up the mistakes. We can’t let them multiply. We had a few too many miscues to beat a good team.”
Midway through the third, Grain Valley freshman guard Eli Herbert connected on a 3-pointer to tie it at 48-48. Raytown junior guard Daron WIlson made a mid-range jumper to start the key 7-0 run. A free throw and a fast-break layup while being fouled from Blue Jay sophomore Ramelo Smith also helped fuel the spurt.
“Ramelo is a tough cover,” Andy Herbert said. “He made some tough shots in the middle.”
Meanwhile, during that spurt, Grain Valley missed three shots, including two layups and senior Rhylan Alcanter missed the front end of a 1 and 1 from there Grain Valley didn’t get any closer than five points and Raytown led by as many as 10 points with under 1 minute left when Smith made a pair of free throws.
Eli Herbert did his best to keep the Eagles in the fourth by scoring 15 of his game-high 26 points in the fourth period but it wasn’t enough.
“He played really well,” Andy Herbert said. “But if you asked him, he’d tell you he’s really frustrated with his turnovers. That’s the first thing he would critique himself on.”
Raytown led 19-14 at the end of the first period, but Grain Valley stormed back to take a 32-30 halftime lead after four made 3-pointers in the second half. Raytown then came back to take a 41-40 advantage at the end of the third led by 10 points from Smith.
Alcanter added 12 points for the Eagles (6-4). Smith led Raytown with 20 points.
Grain Valley junior Jack Schoen, left, prepares to drive to the basket.
Photo credit: Michael Smith
Grain Valley freshman Eli Herbert scored a game-high 26 points in a 62-55 loss to Raytown.
Photo credit: Michael Smith