Grain Valley girls basketball coach Randy Draper’s run-’n-gun Eagles are pumped up and ready to go for their 6 p.m. Class 4 sectional game tonight at Liberty High School, where they will take on Smithville, last year’s state runner-up.

Grain Valley girls basketball coach Randy Draper’s run-’n-gun Eagles are pumped up and ready to go for their 6 p.m. Class 4 sectional game tonight at Liberty High School, where they will take on Smithville, last year’s state runner-up.

“We’re studying hard, and we hope to pass the test against Smithville,” said Draper, a highly successful boys coach at Grain Valley who took over the girls program this year when Steve Broughton retired.

“I have four girls on this team who are among the best defenders of any team I’ve ever coached – four of  ’em. That’s how tough we are defensively. And we run, and we run and we run. And sometimes it’s not pretty, but we find a way to get the job done.”

They found a way to succeed Saturday night at Oak Grove where they defeated Liberty North 38-37 in a white-knuckle thriller. It was the second district title in a row for the Eagles.

“We won it last year with Broughton and we won it this year with Draper,” said Lanae Wilke, a senior point guard who also played tennis for Draper the past four years.

“We have a different style this year, but we’re still successful. All the girls love playing for Draper because he makes it so much fun.

“And it’s always fun when you win.”

Late back-to-back steals that sophomore guard Sarah Turner converted into four points played a big role in the 18-8 Eagles’ win.

“That’s a sophomore who was playing JV earlier in the year,” Draper told The Examiner Saturday night. “She’s a good athlete, and she’s aggressive. When everybody’s holding their breath, sometimes that can be the difference.

“But every girl who was on the team that night contributed. The girls on the bench came into the game and played a big role, our five starters played some of the best basketball of the season and our fans were great.

“They filled the stands and all that area above the stands. It was like playing a home game, and I know the girls appreciated all the support.

“Now, we just have to make sure they all drive up to Liberty for (tonight’s) game.”