As Grain Valley boys basketball assistant coach Ryan Adams checked the stat book after Tuesday’s home game – a 60-56 win over Pleasant Hill – he had some odd news for head coach Andy Herbert,
“We had four players in double figures. And Daniel Mahurin wasn't one of them,” Adams told Herbert.
Herbert just grinned.
The Eagles used late free-throw shooting from brother Jordan Mahurin, Hunter Ramirez and Nick Alvarado to claim their second consecutive victory over Pleasant Hill and improve to 10-3 overall with the win in their Missouri River Valley Conference West opener.
“Teams are finding out that if they stop Daniel we have other players who can score,” said Herbert, referring to one of the area's top scorers who was averaging 17.8 points per game entering Tuesday’s contest. “Jordan was huge at the line in the fourth quarter, Nick hit a big free throw and Hunter just works so hard at both ends of the court.
“Give Pleasant Hill credit. They fought back at the end and made it a close game, but the way we shot free throws, we weren't going to let them get in a position to tie the score.”
With four seconds left and the Eagles clinging to a 58-56 lead, Jordan Mahurin hit his fifth and sixth consecutive free throws to account for the final score and give the Eagles a chance to breathe.
“I love being in that situation,” said Jordan, Daniel's younger brother who finished with 12 points. “I love it, I really do. I've been playing basketball and shooting free throws all my life. They made a game out of it in the fourth quarter, but there was no way we were going to let them back in and tie the game and have the chance to win it.”
The Eagles led 37-31 going into the fourth quarter when Roosters junior guard Justin Orpin went off and scored 11 of his game-high 21 points.
“He was on fire in the fourth quarter,” Herbert said of the 5-foot-8 guard. “If we came at him, he drove around us. Or he'd take a step back and hit a 28-foot 3-pointer. But the guys never panicked, and even though we didn't shoot free throws well early in the (fourth) quarter, we made them when they really counted.”
The Eagles missed six of their first seven fourth-quarter attempts from the line, but hit their last six in a row.
An old-fashioned three-point play by Nick Alvarado at 6:38 of the fourth quarter gave the Eagles their first double-digit lead at 41-31.
That's when Orpin and the Roosters caught fire. Orpin scored eight points in a row on two treys and a layup, and the Eagles were limited to free throws until Ramirez grabbed an offensive board, but up a basket, was fouled and finished his three-point play by hitting the free throw.
“That's what I do, hit layups and hope to get fouled,” said Ramirez, who finished with a team-high 14 points, including six in the fourth quarter. “We had a lot of guys get involved in the offense tonight, and we hit some big free throws – especially Jordan in the last minute of the game.”
Alvarado finished with 11 points and Cody Zeigler contributed 10 for the Eagles. Daniel Mahurin finished with six points.
“It was good to see Jordan hit those free throws late in the game,” Daniel said. “He kind of struggled at the line early in the season, but he's been doing real well lately.”