Randy Draper might have lost a Missouri River Valley Conference game to longtime rival Odessa, but the Grain Valley girls basketball coach has not lost his sense of humor.

After a 43-27 loss to the Bulldogs in a spirited Grain Valley gym, Draper was asked about an aggressive Odessa defense that forced so many second quarter turnovers his team scored just two points on its way to an 18-12 halftime deficit.

“Well, we’re not exactly an offensive juggernaut, but the Odessa defense created some problems,” he said, adding, “Houston, we have a problem.”

The long and lanky Bulldogs cut down most passing lanes for three quarters, as the Eagles trailed 31-20 going into the final quarter.

“We set our girls up in the passing lane and they can trap or go after the ball,” Odessa coach Bud Nelson said after his team improved to 19-1 and 6-0 in conference play. “We’re a really balanced team with eight sophomores and three seniors and the kids are really playing well together.

“And you better be playing well together to beat a Randy Draper team. We’ve been coaching against each other – boys and girls teams – since 1990. I have so much respect for him and his team. They made some adjustments in the second half and really cut down on their turnovers.”

With 7:01 left in the fourth quarter, Maddie Knust hit a long 3-pointer to cut the Eagles deficit to single digits, 31-23, but the Bulldogs scored the next six points to make sure their maintained their perfect conference record.

“They are so long,” said Knust, who led the Eagles with 10 points, despite playing most of the game with four fouls. “You think you have an open passing lane and they cut it off. And when they get the pass, they turned a lot of our turnovers into layups.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had as many turnovers as I had tonight. But you know what? As the game went on, we improved. And we’re going to take that as a positive, something we learned from this game.

“We’re a lot better now than we were at the start of the season and we’re going to keep improving right into district. None of us like to lose, but we did do some good things tonight.”

The Eagles’ veteran coach agreed.

“We played a much better second half than a first half,” Draper said after his team dropped to 11-9 overall and 3-3 in the MRVC West. “I like our team, they’re working so hard. We never quit working hard tonight, we just ran into a very good, well-coached team.”

Sophomore Alyssa Morris led the Bulldogs with 13 points and senior Kinly Grubb added 12.