by John Unrein
The Grain Valley Lady Eagles basketball team was unable to maintain the 8-7 first quarter lead they secured on December 1st against the visiting St. Pius X Warriors. St. Pius would see their lead grow as the game progressed, culminating in 59-41 victory.
The Eagles would lean on defense, boxing out for rebound positioning, and unselfish ball movement to stay in the game. The Warriors countered with efficient shooting, hustle during transition, and missed shots by Grain Valley to tilt the outcome in their favor.
Strong contributors for the Eagles included seniors Jordyn Weems and Gabbi Keim. Weems would compile 6 points to go along with her 3 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 steal in picking up where she left off last season for Grain Valley in being active on both ends of the court. Her signature move continues to be cutting across the lane to the right and finishing with an underhand scoop layup.
Keim is a newcomer to the Eagles program and made quite the impression in her first game. The 5’ 8” forward for Grain Valley scored 17 points to go along with 3 rebounds and 1 block during the contest.
Both Weems and Keim were disappointed in the outcome, but glad to have the first game of the season under their belt and looking forward to getting better as the season progresses.
“We knew heading in tonight that this was going to be a tough game that would require our all in, putting forth our best effort. We were not at full strength tonight with all our team here. I am looking forward to us getting better,” Weems said.
Keim added, “My success tonight came from the unselfishness of my team. Coach Draper continues to praise us in practice in how we are getting better.”
“I have worked a lot in the offseason on my footwork and positioning. That paid off tonight. We can improve our communication on the court and that will help. We miss Grace (Slaughter) as she is a big part of taking the lead in being vocal.”
The point guard duties for the Eagles were primarily managed by senior Malia Gutierrez due to sophomore Grace Slaughter being unavailable. Gutierrez would supply a sturdy effort in scoring 2 points to team with 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals.
Lady Eagles Head Basketball Coach Randy Draper was pleased that his team got to participate in competition, something that is up in the air amidst the current pandemic. The ability to see positives on the court along with opportunities for improvement is what Draper took away from his team’s first game.
“The girls played hard tonight until the end of the game. We talked as a coaching staff afterwards and we are pleased with the effort that was given by the team,” Draper said.
“The second half we got better offensively. We have changed a few things and needed a summer (to work on things) but didn’t get one. The score didn’t go our way tonight. However, I am confident we will grow and get better.”
Draper continued, “Our ball movement tonight was there, and we saw some good passing. We also did our job tonight boxing out and they were able to get some offensive rebounds over the top of us. St. Pius shot the ball better tonight than we did and my hats off to them.”
“Gabbi (Keim) has been a great addition to our team. She has a lot of patience in the post and that made her a force in the paint. Weems is a good athlete and figured out ways to help us tonight. She’s a senior that’s played in big games and it shows.”
The work identified by Draper permitted the Eagles to cut the Warriors lead down to 8 points with 3:05 left to go in the third quarter, following a three pointer by Grain Valley freshman McKenah Sears before St. Pius would pull away.
The Lady Eagles are next scheduled to travel to Belton to take on the Pirates at 7:00 pm on December 7th.