A late addition to the schedule for the Grain Valley girls basketball team provided a chance to face off against a future conference foe.
The Eagles played their penultimate game of 2017 by hosting Platte County Wednesday night and lost 48-41 against the future Suburban Conference foe.
The game was only scheduled last Tuesday after Platte County had opening. Pleasant Hill canceled a game and the opening matched with Grain Valley, which was looking to fill two games.
Next school year, Grain Valley leaves the Missouri River Valley Conference West to join the Suburban Conference. With each division divided by enrollment numbers, the Eagles will be in the Blue Division – the smallest of the four divisions – with Platte County.
The outcome was decided in the fourth quarter when Platte County rallied from a five-point deficit and at one point held a 10-point advantage.
Grain Valley led 35-31 with 6:40 left to play, but Platte County went on an offensive outburst and, coupled with miscues by the Eagles, the lead dwindled away.
The Pirates closed the game on an 18-3 run – outscoring the Eagles 11-4 after a basket by Maddie Knust tied it at 37 with less than 4 1/2 minutes left.
"I thought it was good for both teams and I'm glad we played them,” Grain Valley coach Randy Draper said. “I thought we took good strides forward tonight. You just have to take them for 32 minutes.”
Grain Valley led at halftime and then carried that lead into the final frame with a strong third quarter.
The Eagles (3-4) went on a 9-3 run to build a seven-point lead and did so with a balanced attack. Four different players accounted for a bucket in the run, including a 3-pointer by Keely Hill from the top of the arc that answered Chambers' bucket. Jaycie Stubbs hit a trey with 5:41 left in the quarter to pull Platte County (6-4) within three, but baskets by Knust and Sibert expanded the lead to 31-24.
Hill hit two free throws with no time left in the third to make it 33-28 going into the final quarter.
The lead was 35-30 when Platte County started to rally with less than 7 minutes left.
Hannah Valentine, who had a game-high 14 points, tied it at 35 on a bucket with 5:28 left. Free throws by Meghan Amos gave the Pirates the lead for the first time since the second quarter.
Knust tied the game at 4:24 on a layup inside the paint, but the next basket for Grain Valley came with 16.4 seconds left. In between the Pirates surged ahead for good.
Valentine hit a 3-pointer with 3:41 left and then went to the line hit one of two shots, but her miss was rebounded by Platte County, which drew another foul and made another free throw.
“I think we finally realized we could exude our will and play a harder pace and we kind of woke up. ... We have a tendency to do that,” Platte County coach Chris Stubbs said.
Grain Valley missed multiple shots, turned the ball over and drew fouls in bunches during the Platte County rally. In one instance, the Eagles got a steal, drove down the court and missed a layup and then promptly fouled a Pirate player who grabbed the rebound, leading to more free throws.
“We got fouls because things didn't go our way on the offensive end and you just can't do that,” Draper said. “Some of our fouls were because we didn't get them blocked off. We missed shots we needed to make, no question about that. But that is part of the game and how you respond. You have to be better about that when bad things happen – you can't let it lead to two bad things.”
After playing to a 7-7 draw after one quarter, the second period featured seven lead changes and three ties, the latest at 17-17. That came thanks to a 3-pointer by Kylie Boehmer. A layup by Kendra Sibert then gave the Eagles the lead for the fourth time in the quarter.
Platte County made only two fields goal in the second quarter, both by Janessa Barmann. The latter cut the deficit to 20-19.
A steal and layup by Jordyn Weems with 14.2 seconds left gave Grain Valley a 22-19 lead at the break.
The Pirates were able to hang around thanks to the strength of their free-throw shooting, hitting eight in a row at one point.
Grain Valley didn't have a single player in double figures, led by Hill and Brittney McKay with nine each. Boehmer and Sibert had seven each.