Monday marked the third meeting this season between the Grain Valley and Pleasant Hill girls basketball teams, and it certainly wasn’t like the first two.
That was just fine with Grain Valley coach Randy Draper.
After a scorch-the-nets first quarter by both teams, the Eagles put the clamps on the visiting Chicks and pulled away for a 68-47 win, clinching a share of the Missouri River Valley Conference West title at 8-0 with two league games still remaining.
In both earlier meetings between Grain Valley (17-3 overall) and Pleasant Hill (10-10, 4-2 conference) – in league play and the Sonic Showdown – the Eagles won 53-52 in overtime.
“We were very good offensively almost the all night,” said Draper, whose team won its eighth in a row. “I couldn’t say that the first two times we played them. Tonight, I thought we played with a purpose.
“I thought we were simple (on offense). You only get in trouble when you’re not. We zipped it, we went in and out with our passes and shots.”
The Eagles committed 18 turnovers through three quarters (20 overall), but that mattered increasingly less thanks to their solid shooting and a defense that induced 21 Pleasant Hill cough-ups.
Grain Valley led 22-19 after one quarter thanks to 9-of-11 shooting and freshman guard Claire Rose’s nine points. Pleasant Hill shot 9 of 21 but had three putbacks to stay close.
But the Chicks managed just five field goals over the next two quarters and trailed 48-33 entering the fourth, as the Eagles shot 19 of 39 over the last three quarters. Overall the hit 8 of 16 on 3-pointers.
“We changed how we guarded them a little bit (after the first quarter),” Draper said. “We backed off our press, because they were getting some (good shots) at the basket and we weren’t finding people as well. We switched between man and zone.”
Rose (two 3-pointers) and Courtney Sibert (four 3s) led the Eagles with 14 points apiece, but Aereon Parker was just as much a catalyst. The 4-foot-10 junior was a defensive pest up top, consistently drove the lane finished with 11 points. As the final seconds of the second quarter ticked off, she got a stop-and-pop jumper to bounce in at the buzzer, giving Grain Valley a 37-27 halftime lead.
“I was just felt I got a lot of assists, helped my teammates score and played good defense,” said Parker, who also managed to snare six rebounds.
“(Draper) said ‘51,’” said of her basket before halftime, and I knew I wanted to drive and kick out to someone or shoot.”
“I thought she played maybe her best game of the season,” Draper said of Parker, “and she’s had some good ones.”
Sarah Turner scored all 11 of her points in the second half to give Grain Valley four double-figure scorers, and Kendyll Bailey chipped in seven points.
Olivia Woodruff’s 10 points led Pleasant Hill, Heather Hughes added nine points and Kai Wesemann had eight rebounds.