by Michael Smith
Grain Valley senior Grace Slaughter is one of the toughest, if not the toughest high girls basketball players to defend.
That was evident in the Eagles’ Suburban White Conference matchup Monday at Fort Osage High School.
At 6-foot-2 she was already a great low post scorer and she could take any defender off the dribble and score while driving to the cup. She also always has been a solid 3-point shooter but if she keeps shooting from behind the arc like she did against the Indians, she will be even more un-guardable than she already is.
Against Fort Osage, the senior made 11 of 20 shots (55 percent) from the floor and sank 9 of 12 attempts from 3-point range (75 percent) while scoring a game-high 38 points in a 66-38 rout of Fort Osage.
During the same, Slaughter displayed superior off-ball movement, often faking like she was going to post up or make a cut to the basket, then popping out behind the arc for an open three.
“Coach (Randy) Draper helps by drawing plays that help us move the ball,” Slaughter said. “I look for the seal or look to get open for a three. This year, I am really looking to seek good opportunities. If that means a three, that’s good.”
Slaughter said her 3-point shot was something that she had been working on after she recovered from the ACL injury she suffered last February in a regular season game against Blue Springs.
“Having nine months off with my injury, I was able to spend time getting the (basketball shooting machine) out and work on getting stronger and pulling my range out three wise,” Slaughter said. “I think that is contributing to how I am scoring this year.”
Hitting that shot on a consistent basis will make her even tougher to guard as she already dominates the paint almost every night. On Monday, it didn’t matter if it was a catch and shoot, a pull up or step-back 3-pointer, Slaughter was draining most shots she took from deep.
Draper credited Slaughter’s tireless work ethic for her ability to consistently hit outside shots.
“She can get you in a lot of ways,” Draper said. “You have to guard the whole floor against her. We all know how hard she works. It's great to see it get rewarded. It’s fun to see how good she is. She sets the bar high for herself. She keeps extending her range and keeps getting better.”
In the first period, the senior hit five 3-pointers and scored 21 points to help the Eagles (4-0) 26-11 lead. In the second period, she made another three and was 6-for-6 from the free throw line as Grain Valley went into halftime up 39-14.
Meanwhile the defense was making things difficult for the Indians as the Grain Valley defense held them to just 6-for-24 shooting from the floor (25 percent). Slaughter knocked down two more 3-pointers in the third period and rested the entire fourth period.
Juniors Finley LaForge and McKenah Sears also each hit one 3-point for the Eagles as they totaled 11 as a team. Draper said he would like to see improvement in that area from the others aside from Slaughter.
“We need to shoot it better than we are shooting right now,” Draper said. “Grace is shooting a good percentage. As a team it’s not good enough, but it will be. We are just working on shooting good threes.”
“We have other ways to score aside from Grace and we just have to maximize that.”
Junior Meghan Knust was the next highest scorer for Grain Valley with six points.
Grain Valley senior Grace Slaughter dribbles the ball up court during a 66-38 win over Fort Osage. Slaughter scored a game-high 38 points. Photo credit: Michael Smith
Grain Valley senior Ella Clyman, right, guards a Fort Osage player. Photo credit: Michael Smith