by Michael Smith
With injuries to starters Alex Snyder and Avery Garmon, other players have had a chance to shine for the Grain Valley boys basketball team.
Junior forward Rhylan Alcanter, who came off the bench earlier in the year, has thrived as the team’s starting forward as he’s scored so much in the paint that other teams have built game plans around limiting his opportunities in the post.
Others have seen their minutes increase as well, such as guys who came off the bench at the beginning of the season. One of those players is Reece Troyer, who got to start for the Eagles last Tuesday against Truman when senior guard Cylas Brewer was out with a leg injury.
The senior returned to play Friday in a Suburban White Conference matchup with Fort Osage, but Grain Valley head coach Andy Herbert elected to bring Brewer off the bench and keep Troyer in the starting lineup.
The move paid dividends as Troyer had a career-high 29 points, which included seven 3-pointers as he lifted his team to a 59-52 victory at Fort Osage High School.
Fort Osage head coach Josh Wilson admitted that the game plan was to limit Alcanter in the paint and to make sure to get a hand in the face of junior Owen Herbert when he shot from behind the arc.
It turns out Troyer was the player the Indians needed to worry about as he had a hot night shooting.
“(Troyer) came out and hit a couple of threes and expanded us a little bit, and (Alcanter) is load down low,” Wilson said. “We were so concerned about that; they were able to get some good looks for shots.
“We knew (Troyer) could shoot it a little bit. We concentrated so much on taking (Alcanter) away, he’s the guy you don’t think about. He did a great job finding open spots and his teammates did a great job of finding him.”
Troyer also played a pivotal role in Tuesday’s overtime win against Truman. He had two key assists and two made free throws in overtime to help the Eagles get the win. On Friday, he provided the offensive firepower needed to stave off the Indians.
“Reece has come a long way,” Herbert said. “It’s one thing to start a game playing like that but to be able to finish playing like that shows his confidence and the ability of the team to find him in open spots."
“He’s so sound. He’s a good passer and his basketball IQ is extremely high. He’s capable of doing what he did tonight.”
Troyer said it was the best game of his career.
“I have actually been in a slump lately. I guess I found it tonight. Maybe it was the lighting in there or something,” Troyer said. “I don’t know what it was, but I just felt it.”
Added Alcanter: “That was insane. I love Reece, man!”
Even with extra defensive attention on him, Alcanter was still able to help out Troyer with 14 points of his own.
“This year, I have just had confidence,” Alcanter said. “Ever since I got the break to get more minutes when Alex got hurt … I don’t wish an injury on anybody … but I got a chance and I took it.
“Being able to look up to someone like Cole Keller last year taught me a lot. No matter how big the other guy is, you can still do what you want to do if you know how to do it.”
Troyer hit four 3-pointers to boost the Eagles to take a 20-14 lead in the first period; and the Eagles held on to a 27-25 lead going into halftime after Fort Osage closed the period on a 4-0 spurt.
Grain Valley staved off Fort Osage in the early part of the third, but the Indians eventually tied it late in the quarter after Indians forward Isaac Woodward got a steal which led to a 3-point play following a fast-break layup by senior Tyrek Berry.
After the game was tied at 37-all, the teams traded empty possession and Fort Osage had a chance to take the lead on an inbounds pass with 3 seconds left. However, the pass went toward halfcourt, and Troyer made the play of the game by intercepting it and making a transition layup at the buzzer to help Grian Valley take a 39-37 lead into the fourth quarter.
“He had the hustle to steal it then he had the composure to not rush it,” Herbert said. “He knew he had plenty of time and he took his time and made the basket. That was big for our momentum.”
Fort Osage never got closer than two points in the fourth. There was a stretch where the Indians had turnovers on three consecutive possessions during a 11-3 run by the Eagles that gave the road team a big enough cushion at 57-46 to seal it with 1:06 left.
“We are finding ways to win,” Herbert said. “It doesn’t have to be pretty. Just be gritty, grindy and tough and I thought we were.”
Grain Valley junior Reece Troyer looks for an open teammate.
Photo credit: Michael Smith
Grain Valley junior Cylas Brewer looks to drive to the basket.
Photo credit: Michael Smith