Grain Valley built an early 18-6 lead at Fort Osage and managed to hold on for a victory that put a big smile on the face of Eagles coach Randy Draper.
He watched a much larger Indians squad battle back to knot the score at 34-all at 5:15 of the fourth quarter Monday night, only to see his gritty and determined Eagles enjoy a 7-2 run to take a 41-36 lead they never relinquished in a 54-47 win over the host Indians.
“Any other team in America would have packed their bag and folded their tent after that big run by Fort Osage,” Draper said, “but not those kids. That's the best sign I've seen from the girls this year. That was awesome!”
The biggest shot of the run was Darby Scharfenkamp's 3-pointer that gave the Eagles (6-2) a 37-34 lead.
“They got the offensive rebound – one of the few offensive boards they got all night – then (Scharfenkamp) takes out the dagger and stabs us in the heart with that 3-point basket,” Indians coach Dawn Williams said. “That was the biggest basket of the night. You have to give Coach Draper's kids a lot of credit. He's a great coach, and he did a great job coaching all night, but especially late in the game. His kids never panicked, and they found a way to win at our place. I'm very impressed by his team.”
Although she refused to use it as an excuse for the poor start, three Indians sat out the first part of the game because they missed practices over the Christmas break.
“We didn't get off to a very good start, but Coach Draper's kids had a lot to do with that,” Williams said after her team fell to 4-4. “Raven (Bunn, who scored a game-high 16 points) really got it going in the fourth period (scoring 10 points), but we didn't play well enough defensively late in the game.
“You can't give up a big 3-pointer like that after you've worked so hard to tie the score.”
Scharfenkamp, who led the Eagles with 11 points, followed the trey with two layups off pinpoint passes from longtime friend and teammate Sarah Turner.
“We've been teammates since we were in first grade,” Scharfenkamp said. “I knew what she was going to do before she did it. She made great passes, and I just had to finish it up by hitting the layup.
“There was no way we were going to lose this game. When they tied it up, I told the team, 'Go! Don't stop! We're here to win this game!' And I guess they listened.”
Turner, who finished with nine points, said she was even impressed by her passes.
“I don't know where they came from,” Turner said, giggling. “I just kind of knew where Darby was going to be, and I made the pass. They came at a good time in the game.”
While Scharfenkamp stole the spotlight, the Eagles hit 11 of 12 free throws in the fourth quarter, including six in a row by freshman point guard Claire Rose.
“We put Rose into the starting position after the first of the year, and she's done a great job,” Draper said. “When they got that technical (foul) in the fourth quarter I didn't know if it was right to put her in that type of pressure situation.
“But I thought she would make them, and she did.”
The two technical free throws gave Grain Valley a 44-40 lead with 1:38 left.
Asia Cole played a big role in the Indians comeback as she scored seven of her nine points in the final quarter. Rose finished with eight points for the Eagles.