The identity for the Grain Valley girls basketball team has been playing tough defense and going enough on offense to win games.
That identity shone through in the first round of the Class 4 District 13 tournament when the No. 3-seeded Eagles held No. 6-seeded Raytown South below 30 points as a outstanding defensive performance led to a 41-28 victory Saturday at Oak Grove High School.
Grain Valley (14-11) advanced to today’s 7 p.m. semifinal against No. 2 seed Moberly.
Eagles head coach Randy Draper was ecstatic about his team’s effort on defense.
“I thought our defense was outstanding,” he said. “We were on point with what we were trying to get done. It didn’t matter who we put in, there was no slip in our defense. Our bench was involved in our communication.
“Moberly is a good team. They returned everyone from last year. I really like their guard. She is a great player. She is a handful, but I like our team.”
Senior forward Maddie Knust said her team had a good game plan going in Saturday.
“We just knew where their shooters were and made sure we got to them,” Knust said.
The Eagles held the Cardinals to just two points in the first quarter as they jumped out to a 15-2 lead. Raytown South didn’t make a single field goal in the period as its only two points came on a pair of free throws from Eden Billups-Campbell.
The Cardinals didn’t get their first field goal until midway through the second period when Billups-Campbell sank a jumper. At that point, Grain Valley still was ahead 17-4 and went into halftime with a commanding 25-7 lead. Grain Valley held the Cardinals to 2-for-15 (13 percent) shooting from the floor.
Meanwhile, on offense, Knust gave Grain Valley a big boost with 11 of her game-high 13 points in the second half. She got the bulk of her points in the paint but also hit a pair of threes, showing her versatility as a scorer.
“This summer I really worked on my game,” Knust said. “I could drive before, but I needed to elevate my game just a little bit.”
Grain Valley scored the first four points of the third, but the Cardinals were able to bounce back with a 6-0 run to cut the Eagle lead to 29-13. Grain Valley ended up going into the fourth ahead 33-14, which allowed it to withstand a fourth quarter in which South outscored it 14-8.