Oh, brother, it was a night to remember for the Grain Valley boys and girls basketball teams.
After freshman guard Claire Rose and her fellow Eagle pickpockets pulled off a major heist against the Panther girls, the Mahurin brothers made sure the Grain Valley faithful had plenty to smile about as they teamed up to outscore the entire Oak Grove boys team in a 49-29 Missouri River Valley Conference West victory.
In the past, Rose has played a big role either late in regulation or overtime to help the 13-3, 4-0 Eagles claim a win against an opponent, but Friday night she was on the bench with her fellow starters watching the reserves wrap up a 56-27 victory over the rival Panthers.
“I'm always nervous before a game,” said Rose, whose late free throws and clutch shooting have helped the Eagles enjoy a successful season. “But I wasn't nervous tonight because we were all on the bench watching the girls who don't have that much time in varsity games.
“It was great watching them. We had a lot of fun. The whole night was a lot of fun with the boys playing, the band here and the gym full.”
The Eagles (13-3, 4-0 MRVC West) forced 12 first-quarter turnovers en route to a commanding 18-4 lead and never looked back in a defensive-minded victory that saw Oak Grove turn the ball over 32 times.
“That was the plan, play great defense, force turnovers and score points off our transition game,” said Sarah Turner, who scored six points in the first quarter and finished with a game-high 14.
“If I was open under the basket, the girls got me the ball. I don't know if we've ever played better defense – at least the first half – than we did tonight. This was a great win with a great crowd. The atmosphere was amazing.”
Turner was the lone Eagle in double figures, but Darby Scharfenkamp added nine, and Kendyll Bailey and Courtney Sibert scored eight each.
“The game plan in the first half was to pressure them because we saw that as a weakness when we watched them on film,” Scharfenkamp said. “Our guards were amazing tonight. I've never seen us get so many turnovers.”
That type of defense puts a big smile on the face of girls coach Randy Draper.
“That just might be the best half of the season,” Draper said. “And you know, we haven't been in school this week and everyone is battling the snow and the cold. I think that makes it even more impressive.”
• Let's talk about impressive. One of the area's top scorers is Grain Valley senior Daniel Mahurin. He scored 10 of his 12 points in the first half.
“They went to a box-and-one (defense) and that pretty much took me out of my rhythm, and I knew the other guys were going to have to take over,” Daniel said.
Enter younger brother Jordan. The junior guard had four points in the first half, but with all the Oak Grove defensive attention centered on his brother, he exploded for 14 points in the second half, including nine in the third period, to finish with a game-high 18 for the Grain Valley boys, who have identical 14-3 and 4-0 marks as the girls.
“You have to pick your poison against Grain Valley,” said Oak Grove coach Ty Hames, whose reigning conference champion squad fell to 4-11 and 0-4. “We do our best to keep Daniel from scoring and his little brother goes out and scores 18.
“Would you please tell Andy (Herbert, the Eagles coach) that's not fair.”
That brought a smile to Herbert's face. There were a lot of smiles shared among the Grain Valley boys and girls coaches Friday night.
“Ty does a great job with his kids, and they are tough, so tough and so athletic,” Herbert said. “I told our guys we had to take it to them early because we didn't want them coming to our place and taking it to us.
“We're lucky to have so many offensive weapons. Daniel is a great scorer, but tonight Jordan and everyone got in on the act.”
Nick Alvarado finished with eight points and Cody Zeigler contributed six.
“We have confidence in every guy scoring points,” said Jordan Mahurin, who was surprised he finished the night with 18. “It didn't feel like I scored that many, but we'll take any points we can get.”
As the Mahurins talked about the game, one of the young Grain Valley basketball fans came up to Daniel to show him that they shared the same No. 23.
“With all middle school boys and girls basketball players and all the GVAA (Grain Valley Athletic Association) little kids and the band and the wins, it's a big night,” Daniel said. “It's pretty much a dream night for a senior.”
Caleb Jagels scored 10 points to lead Oak Grove.